What’s right and wrong about the new Facebook ticker?

Any of you who have used Facebook’s regular desktop interface lately will have noticed key changes to this user interface.This interface revamp has been the subject of a lot of negative and positive press about this user interface change in the blogosphere and the consumer IT press. Of course, you won’t notice this if you are using Facebook from a client program like a mobile app.

When you notice the interface changes, you will see a column on the right which highlights who of your friends are online at the moment as well as a constantly-updated ticker of friends’ activity. The list of who is online is segmented by whom you have interacted with lately as well as those of your Friends who are currently online. Both these windows are separately scrollable but you have to look for a black vertical bar on the right.

This has been augmented by an “improved” news feed with groups for “top stories” and delineated “Recent Events” and “From Earlier Today” clusters. This delineates what you saw in your last view of Facebook and your current view on the same computer.

At the moment, the ticker only shows your Friends’ activity, with the ability to link to the posts, Pages, other Friends or other items referenced in the activity. This is different from the News Feed which covers all Page and Group activity as well as your Friends’ activity. Some Pages may appear in your Ticker but this may not be consistent across all Pages.

You will have the item “detailed on” with a larger view if you hover over it with your mouse. This will give you the contextual options of what you can do with this item such as to add the person to your Friend list or comment on the post.

This ticker well be dimmed if you are “paging through” a Photo Album or viewing a Photo in detail. It will only be visible if you are using Facebook and won’t appear if you head off to a link outside Facebook.

I would improve on this by allowing the user to determine the view of the ticker, such as through classes of events and use of filtering or formatting of events important to the user. As well, the Ticker, along with the presence window could be made available as a desktop utility in a similar vein to ICQ or MSN Messenger so you can keep tabs on this whenever you visit different sites.

Of course, it would take some time to get used to any new interface change for an online service and social networking is no exception.

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