Facebook’s New Profiles: First Impressions




Facebook has unveiled its new Timeline profile pages, and they are a radical departure from the Facebook you know.

On the stage of the f8 developer conference in San Francisco, Mark Zuckerberg explained, “We’re more than what we did recently,” thus he and his team set out to create a Facebook experience where you could explore not just what your friends did today, but what your friends did last week, last month and last year.

The new Timeline is the answer to the problem of filling in the context of someone’s entire life. It is a moving mosaic of the photos, videos, places and status updates that make up not just your Facebook profile, but in a way, your personality. Facebook wants to chronicle your life, and now you can see the scrapbook.

We’ve had a chance to try out the new Facebook profiles and play with Timeline. The following are our first impressions of the new product, as well as screenshots of Facebook Timeline in action.


Photos: Facebook Timeline


The New Facebook Profile: Timeline

Timeline is a radical departure from previous versions of the Facebook user profile. The most prominent feature is the addition of a cover photo at the top of the page. Users can change this to whatever they’d like it to be.

1987

In 1987, my sister was born. Facebook knows these life events and includes them in your timeline.

Being Born

You can even add a picture and context to your birth, which starts the Timeline.

Timeline Interface

The Timeline is a two-column interface with top photos, status updates, friends and more.

Map

Facebook has added a feature that lets you see where you have visited. This is powered by Facebook Places.

Photos in the Timeline

Here’s how photos are displayed in the Timeline.

Friends in the New Timeline

Here’s what the Friends page looks like.

Changing Settings

Some of the new Timeline’s customization features.

2009

More of the new Timeline

Getting Married

You can add life events, such as getting married, to your profile through the Publisher Bar. You can also announce that you broke a bone, got a new job, etc.


Timeline: First Impressions


Design: The Timeline interface is beautiful. The addition of the Cover Photo makes the Facebook interface more beautiful, and the timeline is easy on the eyes. While it will take some time to get used to the two-column layout, it actually is easier to navigate than the old Facebook. Facebook thought hard about the design of this change.

Interface: The interface works smoothly, though with bugs (it’s a developer preview). One problem is that you can’t easily get back to specific points in time on your timeline if you leave it to, say, look at a Facebook Page. There are some confusion

Places/Map: The new Map feature really gives users a reason to start checkin in with Facebook. You just feel like finding ways to add more to your map. It’s a nice way to see where your friends travel.

Photos: The new photos interface is simple and clean, though it isn’t sexy. It gets the job done, but leaves us wanting more.

Timeline: The timeline itself is a wonderful feature, but it can be confusing trying to find content. It takes time to load older years as well, when you’d prefer for it to load instantly. But as a discovery tool, it is really powerful, and as you populate it with more content, it will become more useful.

Publisher Bar: The updates to the Publisher Bar make it far more versatile. It allow you to not just add a status update, but add a job, get engaged, announce that you broke a bone and more. It uses Facebook’s new social actions and makes it so you can tell your friends about everything you do.

Problem of Getting Married Twice: We did run into one big problem with Facebook’s new Timeline — the “getting married twice” problem. As a test, I got married to @hermioneway on Facebook through the new Publisher Bar. It signaled that we were “married” in our feeds, but it didn’t actually update our profiles as “married.” To do that, we had to go into our Facebook profile settings to change it. Users shouldn’t have to do this twice, and most users won’t. It’s a problem that will confuse users terribly.

Conclusion: The new Timeline interface is beautiful and a major time sink. However, this is clearly not a finished product. The social network must do more to clean up actions on the Timeline and avoid the “getting married twice” problem.

Overall though, Facebook has made profiles more personal. Users are going to be spending hours in their friends’ Timelines.

Want to enable your own timeline now? Here’s how.


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