The User Interface Design of Facebook Timeline

Facebook is known for, even arguably notorious for, numerous tweaks to its user interface design. The recently concluded f8 conference saw Facebook introduce one of the most radical user interface design changes in a long time. Amongst the major UI design changes are the revamped navigation bar and news feed (not to mention the under-reported bigger ad banners). However the most intriguing feature was the introduction of Timeline. Timeline seeks to represent a summary of a users life in a user interface design that is heavily centered on photos and visual appeal. Think of it as a visual history of sorts showcasing a users milestones starting with their birth.

What are some of the user interface design characteristics of Timeline?

The visually striking user interface design is chronologically similar to the news feed and the wall as the further one scrolls down the further into a user’s past one goes. The UI design of  Timeline, however, incorporates all of a users’ Facebook history such as status updates and photos that they are tagged in. Naturally users have to add missing “life events”, for example their birth, in manually. Facebook, in a way, is seeking to not only database the whole world but to be the book of life with as much of humanity’s existence neatly cataloged  in a pristine user interface design as possible. Personally I’d be very curious to have seen my great-grandparents Timeline, for example.

What could Facebook be trying to achieve with Timeline?

Naturally this only serves to augment the debate of whether Facebook really is an ominous Big Brother after all. All things considered Timeline is an intriguing prospect, a Web 2.0 public diary of sorts and perhaps an assisted walk down memory lane. Unfortunately due to a current lawsuit Timeline has not been fully deployed meaning I haven’t had the chance to gauge the user experience of customizing its user interface design. As long as users can easily customize the amount of information displayed in Timeline it should be a welcome addition. Another good option might be the ability to toggle Timeline to a private mode simply to allow privacy conscious users the chance to give the new feature a go.

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