Update: Facebook reveals a more visual, customized News Feed

Social network starts rolling out newly redesigned feature across platforms (see video below)

Facebook unveiled an updated look for its News Feed on Thursday, showing larger images and offering different feeds based on users' interests.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and co-founder of Facebook, was the first to take the stage at a press event at the company's California headquarters. He made it clear that users are about to see a very different-looking News Feed on their Facebook page.

Updated Facebook page
The updated Facebook page, right, features larger images and more feeds for organizing content. (Image: Facebook)

"The stories around you are intricate and detailed and should be displayed with more than just text," Zuckerberg said. "We believe that the best personalized newspaper should have a broad quality of content... socially and locally updated from people around you. A front page or top news or most important news going on across all topics. And the ability to drill down into any topic you want."

Facebook first announced on Friday that it would be unveiling a new design for its News Feed, which brings users content posted from their friends, favorite musical groups and businesses -- all on their individual home pages.

Facebook is making the News Feed more customized for each user, offering different feeds that focus on friends, music and photos, for instance. Users can choose to view their News Feed chronologically, or they can opt for an All Friends feed, for instance, which shows users what their friends are sharing, or they could choose a Following feed that will show the latest news from the pages, businesses, bands and organizations a user follows.

Chris Struhar, a member of Facebook's News Feed team, said the social network is giving users more control over what they see on their home pages.

"People want more choice and more control over what they see," Struhar said. "We've worked the music feed so users can see what musicians are posting, what friends are listening to, what concerts are happening around them and what albums are being released."

Zuckerberg noted that since the end of 2011, almost half of Facebook's News Feed content is made up of photos and visual content.

"How we're all sharing is changing," Zuckerberg said. "The design of News Feed needs to reflect this evolving face. We want to share with our friends and with our publications and businesses and artists and world leaders. That's what we want to talk about today, a design that reflects the evolving face of News Feed."

Responding to users' increasing interest in visual posts, the photos, videos and images posted on Facebook will be larger and more prominent in the News Feed, according to Facebook product design manager Julie Zho.

"You can get a sense of the moments your friends are sharing as they live their daily lives," Zho said. "Pictures that instantly tell you the stories of your friends' adventures. In the new design, we want these attachments and articles to really shine."

Zho also noted that if several of her friends share a particular image, she'll see their photos to the left of the image. She then can see what her friends have said about the image and all their conversations that sprang up around them.

The newly redesigned News Feed also is geared to give mobile and browser users the same experience. The site's assets should have a material and visual consistency regardless of what platform users are viewing.

The company is rolling out the redesigned feature for the Web today. Mobile and tablet platforms will roll out in the next few weeks.

We've completely rebuilt each story to be much more vibrant and colorful and highlight the content that your friends are sharing, Facebook said in its blog . Photos, news articles, maps and events all look brighter and more beautiful.

The company started rolling out the redesigned feature today on PC platforms, and it will appear across smartphone and tablet platforms in the coming weeks. Chris Cox, vice president of product at Facebook, said the company is aware that this will be a big change and wants to go slowly with the rollout.

In the updated news feed, photos are larger and users can section their news feed content by clicking through different news section catergories.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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