Facebook rolls out redesigned profile pages

Facebook on Sunday introduced a redesign of its user profile pages in advance of an interview on the "60 Minutes" news show where CEO Mark Zuckerberg is expected to explain the redesign.

The revamping of profile pages, which had been expected, is already being rolled out to any of the site's 500 million users who are interested in changing the look of their Facebook pages now. Those who opt to wait will find their pages automatically revamped in the coming weeks, according to Facebook. Visually, the new design makes more use of photographs users have posted at their pages and displays those more prominently, including photos of friends.

The redesign was announced at the Facebook blog by software engineer Josh Wiseman. The changes include a clustered listing of personal information under the user name at the top of the page, including such details as the person's job, hometown, relationship status, where they went to college, what languages they speak and birthdate. Beneath that will appear a set of recently tagged photos.

Users will also now be able to "highlight the friends who are important to you, such as your family, best friends or teammates," the blog says. New groups of friends or the featuring of existing friends lists also is part of the redesign. Interests and activities also now have more focus on the profile pages and are more in evidence.

The redesign, as with all aspects of Facebook, is aimed in part at appealing to advertisers and marketers who mine information about users from the site. But it also is meant to make it easier for people to find information on friends and to provide "a more compelling visual experience."

As always with any Facebook change, users were quick to express support and criticism. "Horrible design and against near every solid UI principle in web design," wrote user Shawn Hesketh, who on his Facebook page is identified as the owner of LeftLane Designs in Houston. Christopher Bradshaw of Liverpool, England, decried the changes as "not fair" because he uses Facebook for business purposes including paying for advertising at the site, and the changes alter layouts of those ads and promotions making some appear "tiny," he wrote in response to Wiseman's blog announcement.

But user Craig Gunnels of San Antonio, Texas, wrote simply, "love the new profile page!" Others in response to Wiseman's post noted that some people simply don't like change and will adjust to the new look with time.

Those who want to change the look of their pages immediately can do so by going to a Facebook page that explains how to update now.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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