The "New" Facebook: Learning From Old Mistakes

A few weeks ago, I logged on to Facebook to see if any of my friends had dared to challenge me in another game of word twist. As was expected, due to my unprecedented dominance in the game, no one had. What was not expected, however, was an inconspicuous link at the top of the page telling me to try the "New" Facebook. So, I decided to check it out.

This "New" Facebook had an entirely different layout, putting many elements of friends’ Profiles on various tabs and allowing for greater control of what your friends see on your profile. In my opinion, the change was an upgrade. Gone were the days of needing to scroll past super pokes, ninja and pirate fights, graffiti, aquariums, and the latest roshombo matches to write on the walls of friends who don’t seem to know how to click "no" to application invites. In general, things felt cleaner and easier to use. Not everybody sees it the way I do though. When I showed it to my boyfriend, he was appalled at the changes. He had gotten used to Facebook’s layout and did not want to go through the hassle of learning a new layout and figuring out how to do what he wants to do on Facebook. Luckily for him, Facebook was kind enough to put a link at the top of the "New" Facebook allowing you to go back to the "old" Facebook experience. He eagerly went back to the familiar styles he has come to love. Facebook is clearly being cautious with this release, providing links to allow users to give feedback and input prior to the full release. A friend who signed up for Facebook last week was even introduced to the "old" Facebook, rather than pushed to the new, indicating Facebook is not ready to make the new site the standard. The "beta" testing style of this release made me curious as to how many Facebook users have decided to check out the "New" Facebook since its rollout.

Since it’s rollout, the "New" Facebook has progressively attracted more visitors as the weeks of summer roll by. As of the week of August 10th, more than half of all Facebook users have at least checked out the new site. By the week of August 17th, that visitor count had topped 60% of all Facebook users. Because Facebook has slowly rolled out this new site, inviting more and more people to check out the "New" Facebook each week, this chart only tells us half the story. It is also important to look at how many users checked out the "New" facebook and then decided to go back to the old style in the same session.

Facebook users using the "New" Facebook are slowly trending towards only using it, rather than clicking to go back to the old. This has leveled off in the last couple of weeks, holding steady at about 40% of Facebook users checking out the new site deciding to click back to the old. Having 60% of users continue on to use the new site is good news for Facebook, as it indicates users are beginning to come around to the new style. It is clear that Facebook has learned and grown from its last major new release. For those of you that don’t recall, in Sept. 2006 Facebook suddenly unveiled its "mini feed"which shocked and scared off many of its users with its openess and seemingly invasion of privacy. This time around, Facebook is letting its users get accostomed to the new style at their own pace, as well as allowing them to provide feedback regarding the new design. Hopefully for Facebook, this will result in more satisfied users, while –in my opinion–providing users with a cleaner, more streamlined Facebook experience.

About BeckyBitzenhofer:
Becky Bitzenhofer is a Senior Associate at Compete. Becky spends her time at Compete managing a data team and delivering competitive analysis to wireless clients. Before Becky joined the Compete team she was a student at the University of Vermont. Becky hopes to continue to use and improve her analysis skills, and develop new and better ways use data to improve website performance. You can find and follow Becky on Twitter under the name Beckybitz.

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