Over the past several months we've tested a number of different designs of our home page to make navigation easier and to surface the most interesting content to users. Today we're starting to roll out the latest design to users. Learn all about the product changes on the Facebook blog.
Here are the changes that you will want to pay close attention to as a developer:
Along with the changes to the home page design, we're introducing new features to make it easier for users to discover and re-engage with your applications via the Games and Applications Dashboards. We announced these APIs a few weeks ago, and have been updating our public roadmap with details over the past several months. Now users can navigate to their applications via the dashboards, see news about their experiences with the applications, and discover new applications based on what their friends are using. Thanks to your feedback we've made a number of improvements to how these APIs work over the past couple of weeks. Be sure to check the documentation for the latest information.
Also, to help protect user privacy, if your application contains sensitive content (for example, it's related to a health issue) and you would rather not have your application show up in the "Friends' Recent Activity" or "Friends' Applications" sections of the dashboards, you can choose to hide it via a setting on the Advanced tab of the Developer application. In addition, we are providing users with the ability to control if they show up in the dashboards, and who they share their application activity with, through the Applications Settings page. We are also working on a way for users to set more granular controls for specific applications, so that they can easily filter how activity for these applications is shown in the dashboards.
To make it easier for users to find applications, we're removing the application menu at the bottom of the screen, and moving the bookmarks to the left-hand side of the home page. The dashboards and three bookmarks will show up on the home page, and the remaining bookmarked applications will appear beneath a "more" link. Learn more about how the new bookmarking behavior on the roadmap. Users aren't able to reorder their bookmarks yet, but we're building the feature right now.
You can set a counter for your users (which will appear if they have bookmarked your application), indicating it's time to come back to the application and take an action. Counters serve as an additional communication channel to reach users and prompt them to re-engage with your application. Learn all about these changes and how to integrate with the new dashboards via the Dashboard API. Make sure you've included the Add Bookmark button to your application to make it easy for your users to bookmark your application.
For now, application notifications will show up with all other notifications in the new top menu. As we have stated on our public roadmap, we will stop delivering application notifications on March 1, 2010. We recommend you begin switching your integrations now.
To send information directly to your users (like application-to-user notifications today), we recommend you add news on the dashboard ("Three friends donated to your cause -- come back and recruit some more!"). You can also send email messages to users, if they have opted to receive emails from you. We recommend you use email for content like receipts for transactions, newsletters, or other richer content.
To indicate a user's friend has taken an action in an application that the user might care about (for example, the friend tagged the user in a piece of content), set the counter. When a user clicks the bookmark to land on your application, clearly indicate why the user is there (for example, to take a turn in a game.)
For now, requests will continue to appear in the upper right hand side of the home page, along with other Facebook requests. As we have said on our public roadmap, we will deprecate requests later this year, after we release our improved Share dialogs.
Justin, a software engineer on the Platform team, is excited to find more great applications to share with his friends.