In March Facebook held a big press conference to announce a major redesign to its News Feed.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he wanted Facebook to be “the best personalised newspaper in the world.” The redesign was a step towards that goal.
It was the biggest change to the look of Facebook ever. The new design was inspired by Facebook’s mobile site. It was more photo-centric. It gave users more feed options.
But nine months later, that redesign still isn’t widely deployed. According to Mike Isaac at AllThingsD, only a single digit percentage of users got the redesign. And their reaction to it wasn’t good.
Isaac reports, “engagement with the new design has stalled. So much so, in fact, that the majority of users won’t receive this Facebook redesign we saw unveiled this year.”
He says Facebook is going to start over with a new design that uses data from the failed redesign as a starting point. Says Isaac, “When users finally do see something new, it will likely be a far less drastic change, incorporating only some of the modifications, and only those that worked better than others.”
This is pretty stunning. It’s an admission from Zuckerberg that his idea of what the site should look like doesn’t jibe with what users want.
In the past Facebook would just roll it out, user reaction be damned. Zuckerberg would endure howls from users but ultimately he would be proven right.
This time, he blinked.
The problem is that Facebook’s News Feed has now become populated with so much content from so many varied sources, Facebook is struggling to sort through it all and provide the right balance for users.
Isaac says Facebook is trying to deliver more “high-quality” content to users, but that’s a highly subjective term. Facebook would love for people to want to read well-written, 1,000 word stories from places like the Economist. The fact is that people are clicking on photos, lists, and Upworthy-style content. The more they click on that stuff, the more of it they get.
Zuckerberg is a bit trapped here. He can present what he thinks the people should want, or what they really want. Now that the News Feed sucks in so much information, sorting through it all is a massive effort that Facebook is still trying to get right.
If you never signed up for the redesign, here’s what it looked like. Some of us opted-in to the new look. It seemed like a pretty good look, but apparently more users weren’t engaging with it to Facebook’s liking.