New Facebook layout confuses teens

October 15, 2008 — by Saniha Shankar and Tim Rollinson

Disaster struck. Susie Q logged onto to her Facebook account and looked aimlessly for her usual sidebar and updates. But there it was, horrifying and permanent. In plain view, this new layout stared back plain, dull and bumper sticker-less.

September 2008: The new Facebook was officially made mandatory for all users.

The old adage goes “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it,” but it seems Facebook employees disagree. They changed the very functional website to a new, difficult to navigate format.

If there was something horribly wrong with the layout that required a complete makeover and people were deleting their profiles, this transformation would seem more practical. Instead, a growing number of members indicated that people were obviously happy with the current format.

Poor Susie Q found herself searching for her favorite application: bumper stickers. Half an hour later, she discovered it hidden under one of the numerous discrete tabs.

Changing the original layout was completely unnecessary. Teens spend hours a night on the website, instant messaging and viewing various applications on friends’ profiles. After this much time spent on one website, navigation becomes second nature.

With the change in layout, however, it feels unnatural, and the location change of buttons is confusing. Not only did the company separate the profile into different sections, it edited settings on the home page news feed, changed locations of buttons on the top bar and moved status updates to the middle of the page, making use of the site much more painstaking.

If the company were to allow its users to chose between the two it would help immensely. For a period of time this was the case, but one day the choice was gone. The point of allowing a choice was to ease into the transition but clearly it didn’t work because users are clearly having a hard time with it.

But the multitude of the annoyed population is not limited to teenagers. Facebook is by far the most popular network used by teachers, students and parents. It provides a networking opportunity that connects people with similar hobbies or professions and rekindles old friendships. The abilities available through it are changing communication in our century.

The company believed that by changing the layout it would create for a cleaner look. But changing the entire look when no one asked for it simply confuses millions, and isn’t worth the hassle.

It is the job of the company to make sure website users are happy and it is blatantly clear that it is not what the website users want. There are already hundreds of groups boycotting and protesting the use of this new Facebook. Millions of status messages have quoted hatred against this new layout.

Many people nation wide felt their complaints were valid because the change affected not only a teenage website, but the way many spent their free time. When something that is important to so many changes, it changes the culture of the many as well.

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