Facebook Redesigns Messages, Adds Search and More

To fix its clunky messaging platform, Facebook is rolling out a redesigned interface and a few features intended to make it more user-friendly. Here's what to expect.

Facebook announced yesterday a new design and new features for Messages, its "social inbox" for all communications online or via mobile phones, ranging from text messages and chat messages to email messages, too.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg first introduced Messages in November 2010. Since then, little has changed, until now.

The updated design splits the page into two sections: The left pane displays a list of who you've communicated with most recently; the right side displays those communications.

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One new, useful feature is the capability to search your communications by a friend's name or keyword, eliminating the need to scroll to find what you're looking for. There are also a number of new keyboard shortcuts, which you can see by typing Alt + Q on a PC or Control + Q on a Mac.

According to Facebook's Engineering Blog, the redesign, which they called "the mercury project," stemmed from disconnection issues, incorrect message counts, and missed and duplicated messages.

"We knew the mercury project would be a significant effort because Facebook messages, and especially its chat interface, is embedded in a web browsing experience. A small team set out to tackle these problems, which required some changes not just to Facebook messages, but also to the way we develop and deliver our software," writes Facebook's Adam Wolff.

The new Messages started rolling out to users yesterday, and will continue to do so over the next several weeks.

[Your Guide to Facebook's Social Inbox: What You Need to Know About Messages]

Kristin Burnham covers consumer technology, social networking and enterprise collaboration for CIO.com. Follow Kristin on Twitter @kmburnham. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Kristin at kburnham@cio.com

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