Facebook just announced that it’s rolling out a Timeline redesign that will make it easier to show off your favorite books, movies, music, and TV shows, either that you’ve Liked or consumed through apps like Flixster, Netflix, and Goodreads. It pushes app activity to a thinner column on the left while collecting all your posts directly to Facebook on the right.
The idea of sharing your favorites is hardly new — indeed, it was one of the only things you could do all those yours ago in the initial version Facebook. The Profile Boxes section at one point gave users more Myspace-style customization options.
Eventually that got too spammy and unpredictable so Facebook turned off the feature, and Likes have continued to get less prominent ever since. For many, Facebook interests became an untended thicket of random things you Liked or friends asked you to Like. With the new design, it looks like the profile is getting more customizable again.
Prior to today’s official announcement, the single-column Timeline design was rolled out in New Zealand, as spotted by ABC, and Inside Facebook noticed tests of a more customizable About page last week
Now Facebook has officially announced the changes, and explains that the redesign moves all your manually entered posts to the right side of the screen, with recent activity moving to the left side. This creates a less “look left then look right” reading experience, as the two columns have very different types of information By default, the top left of your Timeline now shows your core About details, followed by sections about Friends, Photos, Places. Beyond those, you get the option to add other third-party apps like Quora or content types like Movies to the front page of your Timeline.
There’s a new navigation bar just below your Timeline cover that lets you switch between the main view and someone’s About section, friends, photos, and a drop-down list of other apps. If you dive into your About tab, a new Edit Sections menu lets you select and deselect apps and content types to appear on your Timeline and About page. So if you’re all about Pinterest and checkins you can feature those, or if you love watching TV shows and taking Instagrams you can highlight that activity. App developers can read more about how to take use these new capabilities in this developer blog post.
When you look at your About sections, you’ll see a section for things you’ve read/watched/listened to, another for things you want to read/watch/listen, and a third for Likes. It also offers suggestions for other content to add to your profile, and with just a couple of clicks you can say “want to watch” or whatever.
As with most Facebook announcements, there’s a mission-driven motive for the changes, but also a side effect that aids monetization. Facebook wants people to feel their Timeline represents their identity. The apps we use and media we consume increasingly define us, and this redesign shows them off. But getting people to share more through apps also increases developer loyalty and gives Facebook valuable ad targeting data about what people do, not just what they Like. I could also imagine media companies buying space in the suggested content sections.
Overall, by making Timeline more of a home for us online, Facebook could hold on to its place as the center of many people’s digital identities.