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Facebook Rethinks Brand Pages On Mobile

Facebook Product Design Manager Jasper Hauser explains why the social network has replaced its one-size-fits-all timelines with category-specific Pages for brands, businesses, and organizations on mobile.

CNN, Starbucks, New York City, and the Lakers have, until today, all been using the same Pages format across Facebook's products. “As we were going through explorations of what [Pages] could be,” says Facebook Product Design Manager Jasper Hauser, “the thought came up of, well, isn’t it sort of dependent on what kind of business it is?”

On Tuesday, Facebook will launch customized Pages for different types of businesses. Though the feature will first roll out on Facebook's mobile web and iOS app, Hauser notes the company is taking what it learns from mobile and “rethinking what we’re going to do on desktop.”

Redesigned mobile Facebook Pages will look slightly different depending upon whether a Page owner categorizes itself as a brand, local business, city, or in any of several other categories. Pages for brands with local branches, for instance, show a map with locations nearby. That information obviously doesn’t make sense for something like a news organization, which will use a brand Page that instead shows “about” information and photos at the top. Local business Pages highlight store hours, price range, and location info.

CNN Brand Page, owner view (left) | public view (right)

More specific features for categories--options that could include restaurants, retail stores, and online stores--may soon be on their way. "This is just us getting started,” Hauser told Fast Company in an interview. “It’s really a platform or framework to further deepen specialization for different categories or verticals.”

General actions such as Like, Call, Message, and Share now appear more prominently at the top of all mobile Pages.

More than half of Facebook users who access Pages do so on their mobile phones. A local business discovery feature called Nearby, which Facebook revamped in December and Hauser also works on, helped inspire the feature's redesign. The new format for local businesses makes comparing them easier by pulling decision-influencing, such as store hours, ratings, and friends’ activity, to the top.

The changes also make sense within the wider context of Facebook's evolution. Interaction with status updates and conversations has largely migrated to the News Feed, freeing up Pages to serve as more of a resource, and Facebook recently launched features such as sponsored stories and Graph Search (not yet available for mobile) that land users on Pages they may not be familiar with--which means that giving them a quick impression of their owners has become more important.

“This sort of thinking is very much optimized from a discovery point of view," Hauser says. "People stumble upon pages through all sorts of ways…They haven’t heard of it before, they got there, they want to know what this is, and what they are about."

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