Facebook's new face: What does it need to accomplish?

Facebook has previewed a new profile page that cleans up a good amount of clutter on the page by creating tabs for users to put their wall items, personal information and photos.These improvements are a no brainer.

Facebook has previewed a new profile page that cleans up a good amount of clutter on the page by creating tabs for users to put their wall items, personal information and photos.

These improvements are a no brainer. Facebook's profile pages--with apps, news feeds, personal info and photos all together--are beginning to look like a 4 year old's finger painting. It's unclear how these changes (see Facebook's preview and Techmeme) will go over. As Caroline McCarthy notes every little change on Facebook can tend to freak people out.

Josh Catone at ReadWriteWeb wonders if Facebook's new profile page will improve applications. The thinking goes that it's likely that a new tab could couple all of the applications. For now Facebook applications get smushed onto your profile page. It's cluttered.

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By giving apps less space Facebook is hoping to clear out some of that clutter with better applications. With this move Facebook is basically admitting that it has a lot of junk apps out there.. In fact, I favor MySpace's approach with its developer network, which attempts to improve quality and security.

But these little items are just a milepost in a broader discussion. What does a Facebook overhaul need to do?

In broad strokes I'd like the following:

Clean up that profile page. Facebook seems well on its way to doing that. Facebook says on its preview page:

The new "About" tab features personal information in a structured way, which makes it easier to find this info on your friends' profiles. The left column also keeps basic info in an easy to see, easy to find, consistent place on the profile.

Make it faster. Part of Facebook's profile tabs effort is to improve speed. If the profile page doesn't have to call up every piece of graffiti, application and feed it should be a bit quicker.

Better tools to segment friends. Since we're on the tabs issue with profiles allow us to add a them to segment friends. As it stands today, I'll get PR pitches, a few backchannel conversations and ongoing discussion about my annual Dewey Beach, Del. drinkup with my college pals. Gee, guess which one of those I'm most interested in. A little classification would be a nice perk.

Facebook's preview page is also likely to bring some good ideas to the fore.

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