Every time I open Facebook on my laptop I’m blown away by how cluttered and inconvenient the design is. Despite (or perhaps because the site is used by more than a billion people, it is one of the most difficult on the web to navigate. There are a myriad of menus, entirely too many links on four different side-bars (if you count the persistent header), and the content sandwiched in between all of these extraneous “resources” is never organized in an understandable order.
All of that being said, everyone I care about is on Facebook, and I do a lot of my work there (both academically and professionally) so I continue to use it constantly. And I think that may be the issue. Most people I talk to hate the site’s design (and the apps aren’t much better), but they use it because it has become the cultural mainstay. Today’s launch of Paper, Zuck and company’s answer to newsreaders like Flipboard, we may finally be on the way to a more user friendly UI and a site that gives us what we want without a bunch of junk we haven’t needed since High School.
Paper’s simple, yet effective, side scrolling interface shows you each post or article form your friends (in the news feed section) or publications (in the interest sections) as individual Twitter-style cards. Tapping a card opens the story which can then be expanded to full text or viewed as a summary. You can comment, like and share just as you would anywhere else in Facebook, but these buttons are subtly placed in small toolbar at the bottom of the card. And that’s it. No sidebars, no groups, no “pokes”, just the stories and the calls to action.
I played with Paper for about thirty minutes this afternoon and I’ve already enabled the setting to route all of my Facebook Notifications through it rather than the default app. In fact, between Paper, Messenger and Pages Manager (for Brand pages) I may not have to open the default app for anything other than adding new friends now. And I am completely okay with that. I love the connections I have on Facebook, and I’m over the moon with the addition of a simple, minimalist interface for managing them. I can only hope that this design proves popular enough to make the transition to the desktop site.