Zuck bought Facebook its fanciest new outfit in many years this week, and naturally, the new News Feed is getting all the swooning. But Facebook added a handful of delicate tweaks and turns to the site — some you might not have noticed yet.
It makes sense to toss in little changes in the shadow of a giant one. Some of them make sense given the news feed shakeup. Others are just augmentations the team slid in without noticing. Many are good. Some are not. Here’s a guide to all that’s new and (mostly) improved.
The words you read on Facebook look different now. Helvetica. All over the place. According to Facebook Product Designer Vivian Wang, the typographical shift is part of Facebook’s strategy to be more consistent. Your statuses should look the same whether you read them on a phone, tablet or browser, and with the Helveticafication of Facebook, there’s a “consistent voice” no matter what device you’re using. Voice is neutral — Helvetica is beloved for being both brilliant and inoffensive, which is why you’ll see it everywhere from the NYC Subway and the Space Shuttle. And now, Facebook. This was probably inevitable.
Facebook also added some old-fashioned styling to its revamped article sharing — if you toss in a link, the headline will be displayed in large point Georgia — a typeface that’s very, very close to Times New Roman and carries a lot of its gravitas. Zuck said he wanted the feed to be more like a newspaper.
The controversial Ticker — that live feed of everything our friends clicked, liked and shared, as it happened — has been beaten within an inch of its life and stuffed into an insultingly small box in the bottom left of the page, where no one will even think to look for it. It only shows one item at a time and completely blends into your IM buddy list, so really, it might as well not be there at all. Wang said the Ticker is now “more of a peripheral feed”, which seems appropriately euphemistic for a funeral. She was quick to point to the “Most Recent” category of the revamped New News Feed, which Facebook says is now your best bet for perma-stalking your friends.
Don’t be surprised when the ticker vanishes completely. You probably won’t even notice.
New profile pictures
Hey, did [__________] change her profile picture? I love those glasses, don’t you? George looks handsome too. And now they’ve got their own little rectangle in the Photos News Feed, highlighting their most recent vanity changes. [clear]
This is so tiny and so lovely. If there’s a new story on a feed you’re currently reading, you’ll get a gentle bubble reminder. Click it, and you’ll be taken to the top.
Entirely trivial but slightly charming. When you like something, the little thumb briefly bounces, just like in the mobile app. I’m sure some group of PhDs decided that would make people click things more often, because we’re animals that like to see little things bounce around.
A great deal of Facebook has been stripped down and stuffed into the left-hand sidebar. What happens if you don’t have the screen real estate to fit that and everything else? Just make your browser window smaller, and the bar shrinks to an icon-only view, saving a great swath of pixels.
Friend lists? Hello? Bueller?
Sorting our Facebook buddies into categories we care more or less about seemed like a neat way of sorting signal from noise, given how many worthless people we’re friends with these days. But how do we edit these lists now? The old buttons and menus that let you edit your social silos seem completely gone — I was only able to find an editing option by jumping through a bunch of outdated articles in the Facebook Help section. It’s here, if you want it.
User Manual is Gizmodo’s guide to etiquette.