MENLO PARK, Calif. -- Facebook is breathing new life into its news feed, the primary point of entry for most users, by reducing white space and increasing the size and range of rich media displayed to its users. The cluttered, all-encompassing news feed of yesterday will be stripped down, as users gain access to four new feeds - all friends, photos, music, following - to help them filter through the junk and find the content they care about most.
"What we're trying to do is give everyone in the world the best newspaper we can," says CEO Mark Zuckerberg, announcing the redesigned news feed here at Facebook headquarters. "We think there's a really important place for a personalized newspaper like this."
As he revealed the new design coming to Facebook's home page beginning later today, Zuckerberg called it "a design that we think reflects this evolving face of news feed" in a "mobile-inspired, consistent UI."
"The story we're trying to adhere to here is getting Facebook out of the way as much as possible," says Chris Cox, VP of product at Facebook. "A lot of what you're seeing here is a very mobile-inspired design."
Facebook brought more than 1,000 features from its mobile and tablet interfaces to the web, he says, pointing to three major pieces of the redesign - richer stories, feeds filtered by content type or source, and a consistent experience across every platform. "Feeds, you'll notice, will look the same wherever you are," he adds.
Chris Struhar, the tech lead of Facebook's news feed, says the changes empower users with more choice and control over the content they see on Facebook. "Sometimes I want to see every event that my friends are going to, or every photo that my friends are uploading or every song that my friends are listening to," he says. "Now you have more control over which of these feeds you see on your home page…You can jump to any of these different feeds using the switcher at the top of the page."
Stories "deserve to be displayed with more than just text," Zuckerberg adds. "Because news feed supports such a broad range of content types," he believes the redesign "builds a foundation for the best personalized newspaper."
With photos claiming up to 30 percent of an average news feed, it's no wonder Facebook wants to bring photos "front and center," giving them prime real estate and more room to pop on the busy home page.
"They say a picture's worth a thousand words. Today's design is probably like 500," says Julie Zhuo, director of product design at Facebook. By taking design cues from mobile and making it consistent across other platforms, she says Facebook is aiming for a "richer, simpler, more beautiful news feed on desktop web and mobile."
She and other executives were reticent to discuss any advertising changes as part of the redesign, focusing instead on the visual appeal of more content-heavy feeds. "In this new design we're really about taking all the content you see and making them richer and more immersive," adds Zhuo. "That goes across the board for everything including ads…everything across the board is going to get this richer, more immersive design."
The main news feed or top news, which will remain separate from the four new feeds introduced today, will continue to be the most used like the home page of any newspaper, Zuckerberg says. "We don't necessarily want to push more stuff into the home page…Right now the goal is just to make it so people can find the content they want and more of that stuff can be surfaced to them."
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Matt Kapko has been writing about mobile since 2006, before it became cool. Based in Long Beach, CA, he has covered mobile entertainment, digital media, marketing, and advertising for several business media outlets. A former editor and reporter for RCR Wireless News, paidContent, and iMedia Connection, Matt is a regular freelance reporter for ClickZ. You can follow Matt on Twitter at @MattKapko or drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 19, 2014