13 Oct 2009

Facebook Search. Updated.

Facebook Search has just been updated in a subtle but significant way.

Earlier, to visit a person's profile, an application or a page all one had to do was type the first few letters in the search box, use the arrow keys to select the profile that came up automatically and click return.

Now - this has changed and it instead leads to a search page for that particular keyword instead.

As you can probably see, this small change can potentially have a significant impact on usage inside Facebook.

For instance, if I type a name that's popular among my friends, say Jack, then the search results would show me their profiles (along with profiles of other Jacks) together with status updates/wall posts that include the word Jack.

Similarly, if you searched for a product you are already a fan of, then potentially, in the search results, you'd get the fan page you were looking for, but perhaps also another group that critiques that product or company (on Facebook these usually end up with names like 'We hate Acme'). All this, leading to a more democratic social network.

Maybe this change has come about as a result of Facebook's acquisition of Friendfeed and its people?

This small change would be just one of many others if there wasn't a small rider to the way Facebook search now behaves.

There is no change in the way you browse profiles if you type the first few letters, let the results come up under the search box and then use your mouse to click on the profile. In that case you're led to the profile directly. I suppose Facebook has retained this functionality for the mouse for more 'novice' users who do not mind moving hands from keyboard to mouse for a result.

So what Facebook have (very cleverly) done, is that they've changed the UI for more experienced users while retaining it for more novice users. A very smart move and a strategic one at that.