Over 250 million photos are uploaded daily on Facebook (source: Facebook’s S-1 IPO application). User uploaded photos make up a significant part of the Facebook News Feed, and as such Facebook has recently redesigned their Photo Viewer window.
The major change is shifting the comments and ads to the right hand size, next to the photo. While Facebook rarely provides detailed information about design changes, this is probably for a number of reasons. Firstly, the continual dominance of landscape/widescreen displays in everything from phones, tablets and computer screens means there is generally more space on the sides of photos, whether the photo is in portrait or landscape. Secondly, it pushes all the content in the photo viewer above the fold (so it is visible in its entirety on a single screen), including comments, likes and in particular, Facebook Ads. This is in line with Facebook’s continual push to monetise the service and increase the effectiveness of advertising, to compete with Google’s Adwords service.
Below is an example of the new photo viewer in action, showcasing a photo from a shoot we did for a client’s Facebook page. Photo taken on a 24″ screen at 1920 x 1080. Notice how it displays the photo and associated comments, likes and tags all together in a much cleaner, simpler way. No white space is wasted, and it fits the proportions of the screen much better all above the fold.
The other significant change is the seamless photo resizing, even after the page has loaded. Just like the old photo lightbox, photos display up to 960px on the longest side. However the new photo viewer will resize the photo on the fly dependent on the browser window and screen size – much more responsive than the old viewer. Flicking through photos also seems a little quicker, although it’s hard to prove whether the ‘pre-load image’ code has been altered without confirmation from Facebook.
The ‘Like’ and ‘Tag Photo’ buttons are now semi-transparent and activated on mouse-over. This is a much better implementation than the previous buttons which were permanently visible, blocking whatever was in the bottom left corner of the photo. This has also allowed the buttons to become significantly larger.
As with most Facebook changes, updates are applied to a few users first to test, then rolled out side-wide. Expect to see the updated lightbox on your account shortly.