If you are anything like me, you hate it when Facebook changes! It has been 11 years since Facebook was launched and it seems that every year Facebook unleashes its redesigns on unsuspecting, hardly forewarned and unprepared victims like me without considering our feelings in this process. Like most users, I love to rage about Facebook redesigns but the truth is that sooner or later we all adapt to those redesigns and forget about the initial frustration that we experienced because of Facebook. To celebrate Facebook’s 11th birthday on the 4th of February 2015, I decided to look back at some of the site’s most notable redesigns and features and how I reacted to each of them.
Who remembers when Facebook was called TheFacebook? I certainly don’t because I joined Facebook back in 2006, two years after it was launched. On Feb 4, 2004, when dear old Mark launched Facebook, its membership was only limited to Harvard students but later expanded it to colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and Stanford University. It gradually added support for students at various other universities and later to high-school students. In 2005, the company dropped the from its name after purchasing the domain name facebook.com for US$200,000.
Do you remember what the first few Facebook group pages looked like? How drastically different were they from the Group pages that we all now know and love
2005: This is you
If you had a profile on Facebook back in 2005, this is what it would have looked like. No Timeline and Chat Heads and Cover Photos. How boring and ancient!
This is what Mark Zuckerberg’s profile looked like back in the days where his work info read “I like making things” and in 2015 it reads, “I’m trying to make the world a more open place”.
So one morning in 2006, I woke up to the news of the first of Facebook’s many major redesigns. A weird thing called the News Feed, the constantly updating list of stories in the middle of your home page was added along with a Mini Feed that appeared on my profile page. I could see everything about everyone and so could others. Privacy settings were messed up and I was furious! Seriously, Facebook never cared about my sense of privacy. Would it have killed them to take my opinion first? And so, I joined my first “I Hate Facebook Group”. Now this might seem a little extreme to some of you but at least I didn’t call Ruchi Sanghvi, the engineer behind the NewsFeed “The Devil” like many of you did. This was the year founder Mark Zuckerberg even wrote a blog post called “Calm down. Breathe. We hear you” to address the public outcry over the NewsFeed.
2008: New Login and Profile Tabs
“Looks cleaner and sleek. I like! I like!”
The login page looked much sleeker in 2008 and five tabs were added to the profile page: Feed, Wall, Info, Photos and Boxes. Even though I wasn’t happy with having to adapt to a new profile page, I didn’t complain as much because the design looked sleeker and navigation was made much easier. Cherry on top was the Chat feature that was debuted that year allowing me to instant message all my Facebook friends whenever I wanted just like MSN.
2009: What’s on your mind?
This was that unfortunate year when Facebook opened Pandora’s Box by releasing a feature called “What’s on your mind?” and unleashed a never ending tirade against itself. Honestly, this was my least favourite/most hated feature ever to be introduced by Facebook. Now I had to endure annoying depressing status updates like “Ugh, I don’t want to talk about it,” “I am not Okay. I promise”, “I’ve learned nothing matters without trust,” “I’m always the one at the wrong time,” “How could you do this to me???” (Just so you all know, these were all copied and pasted from a girl I blocked from my newsfeed who annoyed me by doing this all the time). The backlash Facebook received was bigger than ever, as 1.7 million (myself included) users cried out in protest. Facebook made a few tweaks to placate us, but stuck with the new design, at least temporarily.
The Like Button
The only thing that was able to placate me that year was the introduction of the LIKE button, which allowed me to my show appreciation for clever status updates or cute pictures of my crush back in the day (I am so over that!)
2010: Celebrity Pages, Notifications and Profile makeover
2010 brought with it the birth of Facebook Pages where companies and celebrities could invite customers and fans to LIKE their pages and interact with them. I was quite happy with this feature and clearly remember going on a Liking spree where in one day I ended up liking more than a 100 celebrity pages (Don’t judge me, I was just a teenager obsessed with pop culture)
The same year, Facebook also brought notifications to the top navigation bar following yet another redesign. 2010 also noticed the Profile makeover where Facebook rolled out a new, more visual profile. It added a row of recently tagged images below your name and basic profile information. To be honest, this was my favorite redesign over the years. I have no idea why people hated it so much. A lot of my friends went berserk over the neatly stacked photos under our basic profile information and boycotted Facebook for several days hours! Here is a video Facebook created to introduce the new profile:
Facebook stalking became even easier in 2011 when a real-time activity feed was added to the homepage. Every girl who has ever had a crush on someone has stalked that person on Facebook at some point in their lives, so stop judging me! I wasn’t the only one overjoyed with this new redesign that allowed me to check what the other person was up to at all times. Facebook also launched the News Ticker in 2011 so users could keep up with their friends while browsing through other parts of Facebook
Give me my WALL back!!!!!!
Oh how can I forget the Great Timeline Freak-out of 2011 when the social networking giant ditched the concept of a “wall” and introduced the Timeline in an attempt to urge users to “Tell their life story”. I was so furious because like many others, I was tricked into switching to the Timeline against my wishes. My status update for several days remained the following:
“How can I get my Wall back? I accidentally switched to Timeline and now my life is miserable!!
Facebook gave users like me who were resistant to the regular design changes a breather in 2012when it didn’t really redesign the News Feed or Profile (Thank God!). Probably, because it was busy dealing with its IPO and buying Instagram. The company made Timeline for Pages, but personal Timeline and News Feed stayed pretty much the same.
2013: Bigger and Whiter NewsFeed
Newsfeed was redesigned to take advantage of more photos and other visual content sharing, as well as seeing the difference between personal stories and posts from public figures. What basically happened was a lot of white space was added and everything was made to appear bigger along with a mobile-inspired side bar. I was Ok with these changes.
2014: Going back to basics
Facebook spent the whole of 2013 refining its NewsFeed design, which touted huge photos, a dynamic navigation bar, and Tumblr-esque profile photos. The company rolled out its new design to a fraction of its billion users, and then called the whole thing off in 2014 because *wait for it*as usual users hated the new design! No surprises there! So for its next News Feed, Facebook went back to square one. Ha!
So we can all conclude Facebook is obsessed with change. The company is always trying to improve its products, increase engagement and grow. What company wouldn’t want to do that?But it sometimes comes at the expense of users like me, causing frustration and leading to widespread criticisms. Even so, users often adapt over time. I know no matter how many “I hate Facebook” groups I join and protest against the redesigns, sooner or later I will get used to the mand begin to love them. That is the Power of Facebook!