Facebook Emphasizes Search with New Redesign (Screenshots)

Facebook is apparently rolling out some UI changes to a select number of users. The changes primarily feature navigation elements which have moved from the bottom of the screen to the left sidebar. These changes, unlike previous UI updates, are very subtle and hopefully these will not cause another user rebellion against Facebook. Regardless, they are very significant changes nonetheless.

Notice in the screen shot above how search has a much more prominent placement, appearing just above  the News Feed. You’ll recall previously, the search box was positioned in the far upper right of the screen. Additionally, the size of the search box itself appears to have grown by approximately 50%. Check out the comparison screenshot below:

Facebook Search Old vs. New
 There are a few other minor changes. The top navbar has been modified. The upper left hand corner will now display icons for your invitations, inbox, and notifications.

So why the new emphasis on search? Facebook search has been know to, well….suck. Facebook does a great job using algorithms behind the scenes to help return ‘people’, but actually navigating through those results was a pain. With Facebook’s business model moving more and more toward paid ads combined with the need to get people to start using search more if it wants to leverage its ‘Everyone’ updates as a viable alternative to Twitter’s realtime search it makes sense that they are working diligently on Facebook search.

Again, these changes are part of a bucket test, so don’t be surprised if you don’t see them. It’s also possible that Facebook is only testing these design modifications. The re-design rolled out to all users could look very different.

What are your thoughts on Facebook search?