Lucky me; I’ve been selected to try out Facebook’s overhauled desktop design ahead of its official release. And it’s… weird. The company first announced the redesign during its F8 developer conference last year and has since begun rolling it out to a small number of users. It’s expected to hit a wider audience before spring.
At first glance, the format feels like a step backward, with huge, bubbly shortcut icons and an infinite-scroll News Feed that that is completely uncluttered — but only because each individual item is so large there’s no room for anything else.
For the bubbly minimalist — The new desktop experience looks a lot like a mobile interface. The feed is somehow both fragmented — with each post existing as its own bubble — and continuous, keeping with the neverending scroll it’s always known. There's really only enough space for one post to be viewed in full, which isn't entirely different than before, but now feels aggressive given the lack of other information on the screen at the same time. On a 13-inch MacBook, I had to zoom out to 50 percent to be able to see two consecutive posts in full.
It's the perfect design for kids, or perhaps someone who has never used Facebook before. For the rest of us though, not so much.
It’s kind of lame — While the News Feed undoubtedly needed some de-cluttering, I’m not sure showing less of the content I follow was the way to go about that fix. Shuffle the ads and sponsored content, sure, but jumbo-sizing everything to push out the mess just means it’s more work to see the things you’re actually there for. The new format will have you caught in the endless scroll. And we already have Instagram for that.
You’ve still got some time — The redesign is still being tested by a small group of users, so if you haven’t gotten the prompt you’re in the clear. For those who have, you also have the option to not do it or revert to the old layout if you change your mind. And depending on the feedback it gets from the test, there may still be some changes yet before the design goes public. Either way, though, you’ll be fine; these days, you probably don’t use Facebook all that much anyway.