This morning, after previewing its Timeline in New Zealand, Facebook has made the feature available worldwide. As with anything new and different, they're girding for user backlash. Considering the design, layout and concept changes, the new profile page is one of the biggest redesigns since Facebook's 2004 inception. We're here to walk you through it..
Too Many Photos
Instead of just one profile picture, Facebook now requires two. There's the default photo of yore. And then there's a "cover photo" -- that big landscape photo spanning the top of the page. Agonizing over one representation of oneself is hard enough. Finding two, that match no less, takes more effort. Some might just haphazardly put up their two favorite photos and move on. But for those of us who like to keep things pretty and logical, this is a stressful task. Think about it like this: Every time you decide to change your profile picture, you have to think of an whole new concept.
Nothing Is In the Right Order
Facebook has nixed the traditional one-column chronological feed format, forgoing it for this two-column thing you see above. Instead of having items -- links, wall posts, photo activity -- run from most-recent on down, Facebook has ensured that actions don't get lost forever, scattering recent events across the two columns. For eyes trained to scroll from top to bottom, the new format confuses. As you can see from the dates above, the posts still appear in chronological order from top to bottom. But with two columns, eyes also have to scroll from side to side.
The new Timeline doesn't just retain moments for longer on the "homepage," but the hallmark feature "the timeline" allows users to go back in time. The dates appear at the top right of the profile page, prompting Facebookers to "go back in time," ie. look through old posts. Facebook also encourages users to fill out the timeline with moments from before Facebook even existed.
With everything going on, Facebook has created a new "activity log," to keep track of everything, from today to the very first time you Facebooked. It appears at the top of the page, beneath the cover photo.
So Much Work
Facebook assumes everyone is into scrapbooking. Building the Timeline out requires a lot of effort. Say one wants to put up childhood photos. It's not like those images are stored on a digital camera or Shutterfly. They're likely prints from a standard point and shoot: That involves scanning and uploading. Even for older digital photos, crafting the Timeline involves a lot of legwork. And that's just photos.
You can also personalize the Timeline, choosing which stories show-up and which don't, as Facebook Paul McDonald explains on the Facebook blog.
As you explore your timeline, you may see stories that you want to feature, like your graduation or the day you bought your first car. There might also be stuff that you want to remove or hide from your timeline.
To feature something on your timeline, roll over the story and click the star to expand it to two columns. Or you can click the pencil to hide, delete or edit a post.
A "featured post" fills the entire two-column width, as you can see below. And a hidden post disappears.
Facebook of course realizes that you will inevitably hate the newness, so for newcomers it has provided a 7-day review period, giving users a chance to perfect things before anyone else sees it. After a week, though, the Timeline will go live automatically. To preview how it might look to others, click the gear menu, next to the activity log and select "View as." There you can see how it appears to mom and whoever else you might want to censor.
To get the new Timeline now go to the Introducing Timeline page and click "Get it now." Or just wait until Facebook nags at the top of the profile page.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.