Why social networks should look the same

Our premise of why social networks should look the same? Well why wouldn’t they!?

As Stephen Fry once said “An original idea…. That can’t be too hard. The library must be full of them.”

With the launch of Facebook’s new news feed, the digital industry has been buzzing with the observation Facebook has been taking style lessons and user experience tips from the Google+ social platform.

Many are speculating the major social networks are becoming more and more similar and will end in the point where they are pretty much indistinct.

Don’t get me wrong I find Facebook useful and pretty much where most of my personal social information comes from.  However it seems that the Facebook development team have been working on figuring out all of the personal identity and privacy settings due to the mass complication highlighted over Christmas in particular with Mark Zuckerberg’s sister even failing to grasp how to manage what content is shown to whom. Along with the pressure being exerted on Facebook by advertisers and brands alike for greater exposure on their fans newsfeed’s it seems that the user interface has somewhat taken a back seat.

Facebook newsfeed as of March 2013

Facebook newsfeed as of March 2013

Facebook now feels more like a link directory than a social network. In part perhaps because of the development of picture and multimedia networks like Pinterest, Tumblr and now even MySpace.

The new stylish design of Myspace

The new stylish design of Myspace

All are developing their output to take advantage of the media sharing revolution, spurred on by mobile media devices that now allow people to capture every part of their lives in picture or video form.

It is unsurprising then that all the social networks want to ride this wave and ensure that visual and rich media content is made center stage.  It is after all what people prefer to consume, especially when they are looking to consume small chunks of content during the few minutes we all have at various points of the day.

New Facebook newsfeed

New Facebook newsfeed

Some observers believe that in this new reworked design that Facebook has so blatantly used the Google+ layout that Google should sue.  This is a bit strong, as all design innovation and user experience trends are set by companies and technology copying each other.  You only have to look at Microsoft basing Windows 7 on Apple’s user interface.

Sure there may be credence to the fact that we may end up in a world where all social media look the same, but has this not already happened for blogs?  Where WordPress has taken off and created templates that, despite being customisable all tend to have a similar feel.  This is especially true in navigation.  But then what is wrong with that.  At the end fo the day you know where to go to find the information you need, where various sources of information are and what to expect from any given website.

A more universal layout for social networks is perhaps inevitable and also perhaps not as bad as everyone might make out. At least if all the privacy settings were the same across the net then we would actually be able to control how we appear online and protect our identities.

If you want to get the new Facebook newsfeed then you can apply here:  facebook.com/about/newsfeed

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