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A History of Facebook Designs: Part 2

This is the year that the Facebook users really protested.Part 1


facebook beta 1

Here's a beta design part of the Facebook Beta Preview. Dated March 2008.

Facebook did not like the idea of applications adding their spammy content on people’s profiles in the form of boxes. If you was on Facebook at the time, you would have noticed how infamous it got. Below is a before and after (the box after the friends box). Applications were only allowed to use profile tabs to promote themselves, and not boxes. All the boxes got moved to a tab called Boxes.


This is a beta design. Dated April 2008.


This is a beta design. Dated April 2008.

facebook beta 4 2008

This is a beta design. Dated May 2008.

facebook beta 6

Facebook really does do a lot of live experiments. Dated May 2008.

facebook beta 5

This is a beta design. Dated May 2008.

facebook beta 7

This is a beta design. Dated June 2008.

facebook beta 3

This is a beta design. Dated May 2008. They experimented with right aligned tabs here.

What’s new?

  • The Mini-feed and Wall have combined into the Wall.
  • The Info tab where users can write about themselves
  • The Boxes tab
  • The Publisher
  • Prominent placement of the left hand side column
  • Applications can now have Profile and Page tabs

The design is more fine tuned. You can see that Facebook is gearing up for something big. Yes in fact they were, the new Facebook. So what drove Facebook to this change. The biggest and most obvious reasons, is that people don’t have 4:3 computer monitors and laptops anymore; they have bigger screens, so the website had to adapt to that change. But the old Facebook had such a great design that resembled a book. Could the new Facebook take what was good about the old design, the impressions it gave people, and take that further with the new design.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly undertook the redesign process on his own, but his own development team took over the reins after learning of Zuckerberg’s design plans for the site. Rather than have a drastic overhaul that would discourage developers, the team settled upon crucial changes to the site geared not just toward organization but also gadget placement.

facebook 2008 no networks

Where's the networks?

As you can imagine, there was great disputes over this new Facebook. There were endless groups made, and the blog post announcing the changes, were flooded with comments hating it.

facebook 2008 profile

The mini-feed is gone, and is replaced by the wall, so you can post things onto other people’s wall. Also comes the introduction of the left hand side taking more prominence in the profile. Some default Facebook applications can go here, such as Photos, Videos, Events and Notes. Also comes the introduction of the Publisher. Note how Applications can be in the row of what you want to share. Nowadays that functionality is combined with the Share Link feature. I like how you can write something about yourself above the information. People use that to write witty things.

facebook 2008 photos

Let’s compare the taglines from both home pages.

facebook old home page

Facebook is a social ultility that connects you with the people around you.


facebook new home page

Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.

Now that everyone knows what Facebook is, they don’t have to have a tour anymore or tell you what you can do with it. The signup form also increased conversions.

The new Facebook was not without its losses. Here’s some things that upset developers.

  • Users can no longer add app profile boxes during installation. Users must do that manually, within the application, or through their profile’s plus (+) button.
  • Left side navigation links are moving.
  • Profile action links are gone [to remove spam]. (those links that appear under the profile photo)
  • Feed stories are turned on by default.
  • The future of application emails is in doubt.
  • Source: Inside Facebook

It can also be said that Facebook’s 2008 design was heavily influenced by Twitter. If Facebook had a competitor, it would have to be Twitter. Although they have their different uses, and they do not replace each other; they both compete to be a person’s channel of communicating their thoughts.

twitter old homepage

Twitter is for sharing - what you are doing - with others.

old twitter logged in

What are you doing?

facebook beta 8

This is a beta design. Dated July 2008.

facebook beta home page

This home page design looks disgraceful. Thankfully it's a beta.

Who remembers that Application bar at the bottom of the 2008 Facebook beta? There was a menu called Applications, on the far left of the floating footer bar, and clicking it would open all the Applications you’ve authenticated. You could pin Applications you used often to the toolbar. I loved the Application bar, as it made Facebook fun; and it made me do a lot of fun things on Facebook.

facebook 2008 profile

To see what the final 2008 design looked like, view this article from The Guardian.

So why did the Facebook design change? Because the way Facebook has become, it cannot carry on the way it is. When Facebook came out, it was restricted to a small sub-set of Networks, and it was all about information. The primary purpose of using Facebook was to read information about other people. As Facebook went on, people started to use Facebook as a platform to express their views, and express themselves rather than to spend the time reading about other people. For that reason, Facebook had to change.

Go to Part 3


The future of application emails is in doubt.
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