For most of the summer, www.new.facebook.com has been around for Facebook members to try out, but within the last month, Facebook has officially promoted it to groups of users at a time. This past week, a bar appeared on the top of my news-feed page saying, "The new Facebook is here! Try it now." I did, and I wasn't pleased with what I saw.
What I saw was a cleaner version of MySpace, not an innovation of Facebook. There's a lot more white space and more condensed information. But condensing information doesn't really add clarity in this case. For example, birthdays and events are combined, along with applications all from a drop down menu on the top. The old format was simple with a toolbar on the side for easy access. Why change something just to change it? I wasn't impressed with the new profile layout either. Instead of everything being nicely organized on a single page, users have to click through several pages of information to stalk, …er, get to know more about you.
Facebook developers said the purpose behind the redesign was to make navigation easier and to clean up the clutter of third-party developed applications. I think with the multiple tabs and bigger news feed, there's only more clutter. A simpler solution would be to cut out a number of the Facebook applications and implement a stricter development system (similar to Apple's selection process of what appears in iTunes' iPhone application store.)
Mercifully, there is a link at the top of the page to allow me to switch back. There isn't an official announcement on Facebook's website of when the new version will go global permanently, but it probably won't be far off. Like when the News Feed first appeared in 2006, many users were taken aback and it took some getting used to. That was more because of privacy concerns, but aesthetics are almost as important.