Facebook's updated News Feed cuts through clutter, boredom

Analysts say streamlined redesign will help reduce useless noise and deliver better info

Facebook's redesigned News Feed may help keep users flooded with information from quitting the social network.

"I think people have just been tiring of Facebook and all the irrelevant stuff on their News Feed blocking out the stuff they're actually interested in," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group. "It's totally a step in the right direction by trying to address the issue that there's too much junk and not enough stuff that you really want to read."

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

Facebook is letting users customize their News Feed, 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 the Music feed, for example, which focuses on what songs their friends are listening to, albums their favorite bands are releasing and concerts that are coming up.

In essence, the social network is giving users more control over what they see on their home pages... and what they don't.

"The addition of new dedicated news feeds, such as a photo feed or music feed, will help users find more relevant content that better matches their interests," said Brian Blau, an analyst with Gartner Inc. "More content is a great addition for users and making the vast store of content on Facebook more accessible to its users will help them find more value from the service."

That, said Enderle, is key if Facebook is going to continue to keep users hooked on the site in the long run.

"What they're doing is providing a higher degree of focus on categories, which makes Facebook much more relevant," he added. "You're less likely to get bored and you'll stay on the site longer if you're not seeing so much stuff you're not interested in.... I think one of the reasons their stock has remained relatively low is because people have just been tiring of Facebook. This should offset that substantially."

Brad Shimmin, an analyst with Current Analysis, said the redesign should not only keep users more engaged but should also help drive revenue.

"Instead of putting revenue schemes first and foremost, Facebook appears concerned with enhancing the user experience itself, hoping or assuming that revenue will follow," he said.

Shimmin also noted that in redesigning News Feed, Facebook may have taken a page from one of its main social rivals - Google+.

"My first, unwashed impression was, 'Wow, that looks an awful lot like Google+,' he added. "Google+ helps users organize news feeds according to very flexible Circles of friends. What I do like about the way Facebook is handling this same sort of experience, though, is the ability to organize feeds according to the type of post, music, video, company, etc.

"This, combined with user-organized feeds, will greatly cut down on event stream clutter."

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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Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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