Most of you are downright pissed off about it. It was forced on you, nobody asked you, and you just want it to be back, as it was. While it’s certainly your choice to feel like that and be a bitch about this apparently “unwanted” change, I’ll give you a few reasons why contrary to general belief, Timeline is good.
Now, if you’re still reading this, it probably means you’re an open-minded person, or at least curious how I’m going to turn this situation around. Well, as you and me both know, nothing even remotely related to IT stays for ever the same. Just like you’re not using the same old 486 you used to maybe 15 years ago, programmers and designers are also evolving. That also means, nothing on the web can stay the same for long. Stopping means dying or becoming obsolete, and I’m pretty sure you don’t want that for Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg does well what he does, which is not letting Facebook become boring. No matter how much you like a web-structure or a design, it becomes boring after a while, hence the regular innovations. So, this was first of all a technical necessity, one which ensures its existence for the next 1-2 years.
Besides being a tactical move – after all Facebook is an advertisement company – it also brings an improved experience for the user, and eliminates some of the bad-design generated annoyances of the past. The Timeline neatly organizes your everyday posts, and also gives you the opportunity to emphasize on the more important ones. Yes, some post are more important than others, and we all know that very well. Also it eliminates the list-like feel, which is a very welcome improvement, ensuring me that I will not have to scroll a mile down the page to find a song I shared 2 weeks ago, even more, I can actually jump between dates, which improves the accessibility of the page dramatically. One other great elimination is the tagged pictures bar on the top, which was so often exploited by idiotic web-applications that made 1 picture out of five, trying to give the impression of a banner.
Seeing how horrible that often looked, comes as a fantastic improvement the “Cover Photo”, which for the first time I might add, makes Facebook look really cool and personal. Until this new design, Facebook, to me, always looked a bit techy, and while I did use it intensively anyway, I never really did feel “at home” on it. “Cover Photo” is a great addition to the layout. The page suddenly becomes much more personal, much more representative and for the first time in Facebook’s history, gives designers a real opportunity to tweak their personal profiles. Obviously you can just upload a nice photo, but you can as well, use the profile picture in combination with the cover photo, and turn it into a playground of your imagination. It does have it’s limits though, you have to be in the picture. Facebook also states that you should not use it as a promotional banner, but you can work around that if you’re smart enough in such a way that you won’t piss off the wrong guys.
What else? Well, options, options, options. Loads of them and everywhere. Post size, position, importance, availability. A new and improved photo-engine, an improved tagging system and more posting real-estate. Facebook has done in the past some really bad updates, made some horrible decisions. This however is not one of those. One particular thing that makes me smile about “Timeline” is finding the first friend I had on Facebook. I totally forgot over the years who that person was – turns out it was a she, and it felt really great finding out and realizing we’re still very good friends, although we’ve never actually met in real life. By the way, if anyone feels like that is damn cute and heartwarming, donations for a trip to London are always welcome; or a job… :))
Last but not least, I’d like you to understand Facebook a little better, and I’ll do that by sharing a link to a Harvard University lecture sustained by David Malan where Jocelyn Goldfine, director of engineering for Facebook, was a guest speaker just a few months ago. Follow this link, and in the video jump to minute 54:15.