Facebook Relents: Users Get More Control With Redesign Tweaks

Facebook has just posted a lengthy letter to its users on its official blog detailing some of the changes we’ll soon be seeing on the site’s recently-redesigned homepage.

Included among the new features are live updating to the homepage stream, which will make the homepage truly real-time (previously it would show up-to-the-minute results, but only when you refreshed the page). The feed will also begin to include photos tagged from your friends to the feed – something that I’m very surprised wasn’t included when the new homepage debuted (photos are often the first thing I check when I log into the site). Users will also have more control over what items from third party applications will appear into the stream (apparently users have been complaining that these have had too strong a presence in the current version).

In a move that may be meant to appease some of the many users calling for the ‘Old Facebook’, the blog post also notes that the home page’s Highlights section will attempt to “mirror more closely the content that the earlier News Feed provided”. In my experience the current version of Highlights has been pretty underwhelming, but I don’t think that’s because it’s presenting news I’m uninterested in. Rather, I find the Highlights section to be too small to display many meaningful stories, and I feel like I’ve trained myself to look at the center of the page, so I often forget to look at Highlights entirely.

These changes (especially the new Highlights) are clearly at least partially in response to very vocal base of users who hate the redesign, but Facebook isn’t going to be reverting back to the old News Feed any time soon. And really, it shouldn’t. As Robert Scoble pointed out, customer requests can easily lead the businesses they’re complaining to astray.