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19 March 2012

Switching A Facebook Business Page To The Timeline

Today the kalmstrom.com Community page on Facebook has the new Timeline look. This layout is forced upon us by Facebook, so we can only try to take advantage of the good things and avoid the drawbacks as much as possible. Here I will give my comments to the new design from a company point of view.
Facebook cover image
Obligatory switch
Facebook users have had the option to use the Timeline for a rather long time, but as I did not like what I saw I did not bother to investigate how the kalmstrom.com page would look with the new design. Not until we had a message that the switch would be forced upon us on March the 30th, I decided to take a closer look at the Timeline.

To get ideas I browsed around to other company pages on Facebook, and I discovered two things: many are still using the old design, and the ones who have switched to the Timeline have not been able to solve the issues I have seen.

Photo album instead of news update
The Timeline design has made Facebook more of a photo album, but that is not how kalmstrom.com Business Solutions wants to use Facebook. Instead we wish to tell our fans the latest from the company and also share other news that we think might be interesting for them. By having a Facebook page for this kind of communication we make it easy for Facebook users to follow kalmstrom.com.

Jumping back and forth across the line
The Timeline gives entries on both sides of a central line, and that makes the rows shorter and easier to read. However, with the old design the order of the entries was obvious, but in the new design you have to look back and forth across the line and you might very well miss an entry. This placement of the posts also lead to other problems.

Gaps give unnecessary scrolling
I wish the Timeline would give me a possibility to move entries without having to changing the date. The current Timeline design is too rigid, and it leads to unmotivated gaps between posts. At the end of the visible timeline, before the “See more …” and "Show all ..." buttons, the design creates gaps if the posts on the two sides of the timeline do not add up.

Highlighting entries creates even more gaps
I like the possibility to highlight a post by making it fill the whole width. This is good if I want to make sure visitors see important news, like an update of a kalmstrom.com product. But highlighting one entry often create new gaps in the flow of entries. Just look at the grey field to the left in the image below. Not very elegant!
Facebook gap   
Why not let us group entries instead?
If Facebook wanted to create something more interesting than the old design, they could have given the possibility to group entries. News from kalmstrom.com on one side of the line and general business news on the other side would have been a better solution for us, and I am sure that also many private users would have found a grouping feature useful.

Compulsory photos
In the Timeline design the Profile and Wall pages are merged together, and below the top cover there is room for a short presentation and some apps. I like to have the presentation visible there, but I don’t want to be forced to show photos. It is not possible to remove the photo app, and if you have no other photos your profile photo is shown there also.

Bad display dimensions
Of course kalmstrom.com Business Solutions has a lot of screenshots from our Office applications that we would be happy to display, but unfortunately the quality deteriorates when I upload them to Facebook. The display dimensions are unconventional, and even if I can drag the image in the viewer I often have to crop or resize the photos before uploading. This cannot be done in Facebook directly. As long as this problem remains I would prefer to just link to the kalmstrom.com website, where the images are of good quality.

Cover image
What I really approve of in the Timeline layout is the Cover image on top. It took some time before I got it right, though. The Facebook instructions say nothing about height but only mention a minimum width of 720 pixels. When I first tried it the image was distorted,  so I turned to the kalmstrom.com graphic designer, Jitendra Joshi. He explained to me that the width is actually  851px, and the height should be 315 pixels, something that is not at all mentioned in the Facebook instructions.

Jitendra created a new cover image with the correct measures, and he added the kalmstrom.com product icons at the bottom, in the “extra” space. You can see it in the beginning of this article, but I hope you want to visit the kalmstrom.com Community Facebook page and have a look at it in full size.

Even if I like the new cover image, the switch to the Timeline took some time that I could have used in a better way. I imagine I am not the only one who wishes that Facebook had come up with something better than the current Timeline design.