Facebook testing subtle Timeline redesign

23 May 2012

While the business world is heavily distracted by the social network giant’s declining stock, Facebook has quietly begun testing a new-look Timeline for user profiles.

First spotted by TPM yesterday, Facebook has confirmed it is testing a new Timeline with a small selection of user profiles, but has not confirmed if these subtle changes will become the standard for all members.

The new look takes your name and any additional details you’ve chosen to disclose to your Facebook following – such as your job, where you live and where you went to school – and moves them to the right of your profile photo, overlaying the text on the panoramic cover photo.

The more prominent positioning of user details draws attention back to the individual and takes away the dominance of the large cover image – though this means some creative types may need to make some adjustments to make room for all this text. Cover photos will have to be carefully considered should this new design become the norm – key information could be illegible on some backgrounds.

Just beneath the cover photo, in line with your profile pic, is a simplified view of your module links (Friends, Photos, Map, etc) using standardised icons instead of images pulled from your page. Keen-eyed users will also spot that ‘Likes’ has been renamed ‘Favourites’ – an interesting shift for Facebook’s vernacular. The ‘Like’ button has practically become synonymous with Facebook – why change the terminology now?

There’s also a new ‘Summary’ link, which brings you to a list of the user’s major life events as documented in his or her Timeline.

The adjustments appear subtle at first – which could make it easier to slip them under users’ radar without complaint – but make a huge difference to the page’s impact. The design is cleaner, more streamlined, and I wouldn’t be surprised if elements of this new look are rolled out to all users over time.

Current Timeline layout:

Facebook Timeline layout

New layout being tested:

New Facebook Timeline layout being tested

Images from Carl Franzen, TPM

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.