Social Redesign: Who Did It Best?

By Amy Kattan With the popularity of social media continuing to skyrocket, it’s no wonder that 2011 was a year of great change. With the number of social media users growing more and more every day and new platforms emerging and thriving (e.g. Google+, Pinterest, etc.), current social media powerhouses have to constantly adapt to new audiences while staying loyal to their current users. In the last few months, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have all undergone major redesigns in an effort to make their platforms more customizable and user friendly. These redesigns have received mixed reviews from both new and current users. Do the changes really reflect what users want? What do these changes mean for the future of social media? Here, we’ll take a quick look at the recent changes from our favorite social networks.

FACEBOOK: Facebook has undergone a multitude of changes in recent months, making communication and information sharing more social and instantaneous than ever before.

  • The Good: Facebook’s ticker on the homepage allows users to see their most relevant friend activity and makes it especially easy for users to interact with posts as soon as they happen. Facebook’s partnerships with applications such as Spotify and Hulu make music, TV, and movies more social than they ever were before. The new timeline layout allows users to further customize and personalize their profiles with cover photos. The timeline also allows users to rediscover the important (and not so important) moments of their lives by looking back at their Facebook activity from previous years and featuring the most important moments on the timeline.
  • The Bad: Is there such a thing as TOO much information? Many users have complained that the new design allows users to access too much information about their friends. Although Facebook has given users plenty of time to review their timeline and remove items they don’t want to be accessible to the public, this can take a great deal of time and involves extra effort on the part of the user. On top of that, with the abundance of content, it takes a long time for the full timeline to load on the page.

TWITTER: Twitter’s changes aim to attract new users with an easier experience while emphasizing the aspects of Twitter that loyal users love the most.

  • The Good: Twitter’s new design enables a simpler, more seamless approach to tweeting, featuring easier @mentioning (at the top of a user’s profile), improved hashtag surfing, and trending topic discovery. Twitter’s integration of photos and videos into the main stream makes sharing and interacting with multimedia content effortless. Twitter has also allowed brands to have a larger presence with new brand pages. The customizable banner across the top of the brand page provides brands with the opportunity to promote whatever catchphrase, design, or current promotion they choose. Brands are also able to pin a tweet to the top of their brand pages, allowing them to draw attention to a particular piece of content. Additionally, we now have the ability to embed tweets. This encourages more interaction, as blog and website readers can now reply, retweet, or favorite a tweet right from the site (give it a try below!)
  • The Bad: The integration of photos and videos into the main stream is similar to some features of Facebook and Google+. While you’d expect Facebook and Google+ to be cluttered with information, Twitter has always been known for its simplicity. One could argue that multimedia on the main stream makes the multitude of information we used to be able to access more difficult to obtain. In addition, changes to the iPhone and Android apps no longer allow users to simply “swipe right” in order to favorite, retweet, or reply to a tweet.

 YOUTUBE: YouTube changes feature a strong emphasis on channels, bringing a “TV” experience to the online world.

  • The Good: YouTube’s new homepage design makes it easier for users to discover entertainment that is most relevant to them. The homepage allows users to create a lineup of channels based on individual preferences, browse recommended videos, and connect with Google+ and Facebook to see videos that friends are watching and sharing. The new YouTube also provides channels with a “feed” that can be updated with new video uploads, comments, and other activity from the user. This feature brings new information front and center, making it easier for subscribers to stay up to date on new channel activity.
  • The Bad: YouTube put an emphasis on channels in order to evoke the feeling of watching television. However, it’s not possible for YouTube users to watch video content as effortlessly as they could watch TV. If users go to YouTube hoping to find new content daily, they might be disappointed, as there is no guarantee that the channel they want to watch refreshes its content on a daily basis. Of course, it’s easy to search for different channels and new content, but it’s not quite as easy as hitting the “channel” button on your remote control.

In the "social redesign" battle between Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, who do you think comes out on top?

What are your thoughts on these changes? Do they reflect what users really want?

What do these changes mean for the future of social media?