CIO.com's Kristin Burnham switched to Facebook's Timeline two months ago--and she isn't a fan. Here's what she's learned about the new design.
Social Media Matters
By Kristin Burnham, CIO
I’ve been using Facebook’s Timeline for a little more than two months, since the social network first announced it at the F8 developer conference. Two months to feel my way around the new design, two months to get used to it.
Today, Facebook announced that Timeline is finally available to everyone. You can switch to the new profile on your own now by visiting Facebook’s “Introducing Timeline” page and clicking “Get It Now.” Otherwise, you can wait until you see an announcement with instructions at the top of your profile.
While you can’t avoid Timeline forever, you can hold on to your current profile design until Facebook forces you to switch. Which is what I wish I did.
When I first switched to Timeline, I actually had favorable first impressions. I thought the design—while certainly one of Facebook’s most dramatic makeovers to date—was sleek and current. I liked that I could personalize the bigger cover photo with a smaller one inset and, for a short time, it was fun to look back at old posts from 2004.
I joined Facebook in college, way before there was even a hint of a notion that someday my parents (and future bosses) would be using it, too. One thing Timeline does is dredge up old posts—from the first day you joined Facebook—and makes them easily searchable, for everyone to see.
The good news: You have a week to hide everything you want, so take a good look and determine your privacy course of action. The bad news: Facebook doesn’t make this easy. It’s mostly an all-or-nothing approach, unless you want to take the time to tediously set privacy settings for each wall post you’ve ever had.
Perhaps my biggest gripe with Timeline is how chaotic and clunky the design feels after using it regularly.
Before, I could easily see a snapshot of my most recent wall posts without having to scroll too far down. Now, though, navigating through older posts is like wading through water: It’ll take you forever to get to where you’re going.
You’ll notice that Facebook has placed a heavy emphasis on visuals in this redesign. The cover photo and personal information alone consumes half the length of a maximized browser. And the photos you post and links you share are much, much bigger than before, too. As a result, the new profile feels cluttered.
The last part of the design that bothers me is how individual posts will flip-flop from one side to another as you post new items. Though the new profiles bare the name “Timeline,” it just doesn’t feel as linear.
When I first got Timeline, I made a beeline for my posts from 2004 and 2005. While some may cringe at reliving the past, the nostalgia was fun for me. That, though, lasted only about a week.
Once that week had passed, I had a “so now what?” moment. I had played with the cover photo, reminisced and did my due diligence in hiding posts. The novelty of Timeline wore off, and I was back to using Facebook as usual, but with one change.
I’ve found that since switching to Timeline, I’ve increasingly avoided that part of Facebook. I don’t have any desire to fill in past life events, like Facebook wants you to do—that’s just TMI for me. And I just don’t like being on that page anymore.
As with everything Facebook rolls out, though, this is just its first iteration. I’m interested to see how Timeline evolves next year, especially as more of the new social apps are developed.
What are your first impressions of Facebook’s Timeline? Cast your vote in the poll below.