Should Facebook revert to the old profile layout?

Monday, 17 November, 2008 Updated on Wednesday, 28 July, 2021 by Dejan Levi

There is a now pretty well known Facebook group entitled ‘If 10 million join Marc Zomberg will bring back the old Facebook layout’ that I revisited the other day to check how user levels were doing.

To my surprise the group has continued to grow and now has over 2.25 million members. There is more that’s strange about this than just the weird mis-spelling of Zuckerberg’s name in the title (some users claim it is a joke, though I’m left slightly puzzled by it. I guess it does sound kinda silly…)

The odd thing is that there are over 400 such groups on Facebook at the moment, all taking the form of a petition to bring back the previous profile design (the single-page layout). It’s gotten to the stage that there are even groups being formed to petition against the petitioners. The Zomberg group is simply the most popular one, though as a rough estimate I think the total number of ‘protestors’ (accross all such groups) is closer to the 3 million mark.

What really strikes me as peculiar is that Facebook has not done much to exlapin to these people why it was making the switchover. It could be argued that since we are all using its services for free, then it owes us (and the petitioners) nothing in the first place and that if we don’t like it we can leave. This is fair enough and makes some of the more ‘demanding’ or downright aggressive of the petition groups seem pretty bizarre. Before we forget, ‘the customer is always right’ only applies if one has actually bought something.

Despite this reasoning we all know that Facebook is keen to both attract new users and keep existing ones happy, and is hardly likely to publicly use the above argument. After all most users have welcomed the new profile layouts (they have been around for over three months now) and have gotten used to the switch. I was one of those who found it awkward at first – especially as someone who uses relatively few apps, and therefore wasn’t in dire need of the upgrade – but nonetheless prefer it now.

Maybe all of the users who are so keen for a return to the old layout were, like me, also very ‘light’ users, with relatively simple profiles. However the point is that with the launch of Facebook platform the number of new apps available was increasing rapidly, and the profile rehaul was inevitable once the average profile starting showing seriously slowed load times.

The decision to split the profile into multiple tabs (wall, info, photos, boxes etc) simply represented the best way to ensure that profiles loaded faster and with fewer errors, and ensured that future growth (in terms of user activity) will not come at a cost to the networks speed and manageability.

In essence the whole petition argument is redundant because had Zuckerberg not taken the decision then Facebook would slowly be clogging its cyber arteries to death with every new app or superwall comment. There is also the added bonus of minimising the amount of scrolling required to view a profile, which was starting to get very awkward and un-‘user-friendly’.

Zuckerberg and Facebook did attempt to justify and explain the decision at the time; most of us understood and quickly moved on, recognising the essential nature of the redesign. However with so many still seeing it as an issue (after all this approximate 3 million represents around 1.5% of FB’s worldwide user base) then perhaps it is now time the company took a few steps to contact and inform those users once again of the reasons for the decision. The alternative is to risk losing a not insignificant chunk of them to other more ‘single-page’ competitors like MySpace – something easily avoidable with a little communication.

Let’s hope Facebook decides to spread the message once more and we can finally put the debate to rest. And as for the Zomberg thing please feel free to enlighten me on the reference if I’m missing something…

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