Facebook Highlights the Visual in News Feed Overhaul

Facebook social media

In a “Mobile First” world, keeping it simple is more important than ever for social networks. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is showing it’s learned that lesson all over again with the News Feed overhaul it launched March 6. The billion-plus users on Facebook will find a more user-friendly version of the personalized news platform in the coming weeks as the company highlights the importance of photos and continuity.

Sporting more prominent photos, new icons, fresh font types, and less complicated side bars, the News Feed revamp promised a year ago by Facebook follows the company’s trend in mobile-first applications. According to Allthingsd, internal research told the social network that users were interacting mostly with pictures when checking out News Feed. For a platform built on the idea that a picture is worth about a million words online, Facebook’s overhaul of News Feed makes perfect sense. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told a crowd at the company’s California headquarters exactly why News Feed was photos first.

“The types of stories that we tell when we communicate with a photo as opposed to text are completely different,” Zuckerberg said March 6, according to AllThingsD. Since mobile users are now the driving force behind Facebook, focusing on pictures — rather than a jumble of words and complex navigation bars — is clearly the way to go. The visual-first approach is suited for an audience with attention spans that are different when going to a “hard news” site. The new News Feed accommodates that sensibility.

Just as crucially, Facebook tried to implement changes that would keep users in their comfort zone.

“People don’t like us moving their furniture around, because you break muscle memory,” said Greg Marra, Facebook’s News Feed product manager, to The Verge. Marra added that one of the guiding forces behind News Feed’s redesign was you “don’t need to relearn anything” to grasp it.

Continuity has always been a concern for tech companies as it introduces new versions of familiar products. When it comes to something as integral as an operating system, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) showed how wrong it can go with the Windows 8 OS. As Facebook looks to maintain user engagement while reeling in new users, less is certainly more.

Another key element of the new News Feed is the search bar that sits just above the content. Users can search through the many different aspects of Facebook while getting their visual friendly updates. Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and the visual friendly text service Whatsapp show the company is thinking photos-first as much as mobile first these days.

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