25/09/2011

Is Timeline a hint of FB's new design direction?

Last week Facebook announced it's new timeline feature (along with a number of other updates to the service). The whole timeline UX has already been tried out, talked over and chewed up by designers and commentators alike. Instead of adding my pennies worth to the noise I decided to look at the campaign around the new timeline. More specifically the design of the timeline 'about' page.

I think this is the first time we've seen Facebook's approach to visual design move on from it's usual pared back approach (perhaps a reaction to Google following them in to this area?!). There are definite signs of FB's recent splurge on new designers beginning to bare fruit. Particularly when you can spot UI techniques similar to Spotify (hand drawn arrows, stars, title wraps. see below) following the hiring of Spotify's Creative Director.

The whole page has more texture and depth than anything FB has released before. So far nothing else has been so richly layered with subtle use of shadows and patterns. The page composition as a whole relies on a  large  fixed footer navigation, which is unusual for the classicly left nav'd site  


Further on through the new timeline's walk through we get a glimpse of how the mighty Nike+ has been integrated in to user's data. This beautiful use of quantative data shows signs of Feltron at work.  
As far as I can find, there is no talk of a formal change in Facebook's design standards. But following Google's recent UI overhaul it appears to be another area in which FB are starting to fight back. Evidently they are able to pull some of the world's best talent in to their team, so I'm looking forward to it gaining even more momentum and creating richer visual experiences.