The Evolution of Facebook

Braden Rindlisbacher

May 11, 2013

Change is inevitable. It is one thing that we can all count on. Some fear change, while others embrace it. Facebook has embraced change more than any other social media site (maybe because it’s been around the longest), and any long time user can attest to that. In a candid conversation about the future of Facebook from the film The Social Network, Eduardo Saverin asks, “When will it be finished?” Mark Zuckerberg’s response to his friend: “It won’t be finished. That’s the point. The way fashion is never finished.” So lets talk about the evolution of Facebook.

In a moment of nostalgia, do you find yourself looking back on past photos and think: Why can’t tech vests and JNCO jeans come back in style? Or whatever happened to frosted tips and jelly shoes? In like manner, do you look back on social media and think: Why can’t Facebook go back to its original design? Where did bumper stickers go? Can I still become a “fan” of pages? Let’s be honest, we probably laugh at how we used to dress and utilize social media. For the most part, I think it’s safe to say we’d rather continue to advance than digress.

Once upon a time in Facebook Land there wasn’t a chat capability. Timeline didn’t exist. And you weren’t always asked, “What’s on your mind?” We’ve evolved from using bumper stickers and poking, to checking in and voice messaging. Developers consistently find new ways to enhance the Facebook experience. It truly is, and has been, like fashion since its launch in 2004. It is ever changing, ever evolving, and out-classing all design precedence.

At Facebook’s birth, it was called Thefacebook. You had to have a Harvard email address to register and it wasn’t until 2005 that it was changed to the current brand. Since then, it has continued to evolve into a more attractive template to suit the user’s personal sharing and their ability to be a little more in touch with Facebook friends. Other significant changes include the famous “like” button that was incorporated in 2010. The real-time ticker, Timeline (one of the more considerable modifications) and video chat all came along in 2011.

Not only has Facebook advanced aesthetically; it has also become a lot more intelligent. Facebook algorithms have found ways to find information, ads, and friend suggestions that are tailored to you.

And now…Facebook is changing once again. Surprised? I didn’t think so.

Algorithms have now paved the way for Facebook Graph Search, which was introduced in March of this year. This new feature gives users the ability to search for connections and information within one’s network of friends.

In addition to Facebook Home, a new Timeline has also been introduced. With this update there will be a stronger emphasis on visual content. Under this new design stories are more prominent (larger images!), clutter has been removed, and new feeds (i.e. most recent, photo, music feeds) will be available. Businesses and brands will also see quite a facelift on company pages. (Users might want to note that Facebook’s new mobile features may offer some competition to the popular review/directory site Yelp.) Interaction with businesses will be the primary goal of the redesign—with the check-in, message, like, and rating capabilities displayed more prominently at the top of the page.

It’s no secret that more and more Facebook users are accessing the site on their mobile devices. Rather than having redesigns begin with desktop devices (as they have been doing), developers will begin to make design updates more of a priority for the mobile site.

Is your head spinning yet??

Remember that all will be well. Before you know it, you’ll soon forget what the old Facebook way used to be.

Ten years ago, Facebook was still just a concept. Today, having a Facebook page is the norm. The way we communicate has changed, and Facebook continues to be inventive and push the limits of what we expect from a simple website. The future of Facebook may not be foreseeable, but I strongly suspect that it will continue to change, adapt and, like fashion, keep us all on our toes.