Facebook unveils new look with a new approach
Since he started Facebook in college 4 1/2 years ago, Mark Zuckerberg has learned - sometimes painfully - that he can't make significant changes to the popular online hangout without triggering an uproar among indignant users who preferred the status quo.
But Zuckerberg, still only 24, is hoping he has found a way to ease the journey down a different road so he won't have to issue public apologies like he did in each of the previous two years after springing new products on users.
His theory will face a major test Wednesday when Facebook will begin forcing its 100 million users to adapt to a redesigned Web site, whether they like the new look or not.
Since unveiling the makeover seven weeks ago, Facebook had left it up to users to decide whether they wanted to switch over. If they didn't like what they saw, the converts could just click on a link to switch back to the old format.
But that option will be taken away from all users by the end of the week, a shift that Zuckerberg already knows will alienate some of Facebook's audience and raise the risk of driving more traffic to rival social networks like MySpace and Bebo.
"Any change can be a big deal to our users because this how they connect with their family and friends," Zuckerberg said. "So when you move things around, it can be perceived as being not a positive thing even when it's a positive change."
About 40 million users already have checked out the new design and about 30 million embraced it without reverting to the old look, Zuckerberg said.
But the seeds of an uprising already have been planted on Facebook's own site, where several groups and petitions have cropped up to protest the change.
"It's not that we don't want change, period, it's that we don't like these particular changes," said Scott Sanders, 19, an Austin Peay University student who started one of the petitions opposing the redesign. "You have to navigate more and you have to click more to get to personal profiles. It's too much effort to get to basic information."
Tags: Facebook , Networking
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