This article was published on April 20, 2011

Facebook needs customizable profiles

Facebook needs customizable profiles
Stefan Meeuws
Story by

Stefan Meeuws

Stefan Meeuws is a IT journalist from Nijmegen (NL) and works as an online producer and editor for ZB Communicatie & Media. He has a pe Stefan Meeuws is a IT journalist from Nijmegen (NL) and works as an online producer and editor for ZB Communicatie & Media. He has a personal website and spends too much time on social networks like Twitter .

Facebook is all about expressing yourself. You can like bands, films, books and activities and join groups, upload your photos. It’s all about you! Or is it?

Facebook is different from other social networks in that it allows for very little variation when it comes to lay-out. Myspace allowed for a lot of customization. First by simply allowing users to paste CSS-code in their profile, then by offering new lay-outs themselves. Combine the pink backgrounds and glittery unicorns with the big, intrusive adds and you get the messy affair we remember. One of the reasons for the downfall of Myspace? Possibly.

And while other social networks allow everything from changing background colours to placement of certain widgets, on Facebook, every page is white, black and blue. In many ways that is actually a good thing. After all, it makes it easier to navigate through the site and you won’t be able to get annoyed by really ugly, unreadable profiles.

But it has a downside. How are people going to express themselves? Yes, you can like things, post links and change photos. Besides that, you’re pretty much confined to the restrictions Facebook has put in place. And while Facebook Pages allow for more freedom, this has yet to happen for user profiles.

Not everyone cares about this feature as much as I do, but what happens when you want to stand out? When you want to give your personal profile the same feel as your favourite horror movie, or even the band you play bass in? It’s just not possible.

Your social network profile should represent YOU. But right now it only represents you partly. It also represents the nice, tidy Facebook. It’s like living in an apartment where you’re not allowed to move any of the furniture or give the walls a nice paint job. The result is the tidy place your mother always hoped you would live in, but also a pretty boring place to hang with your friends.

I’m not saying we should go back to the glitter and colourfull chaos of Myspace, but some basic customization would be nice. For example changing the colour of the blue Facebook header and some basic lay-out options that people can change in their settings. And to keep everyone happy, why not allow people to switch these customizations on and off in their profile settings? That way people can decide for themselves whether they can see people’s virtual rooms AFTER they cleaned them, or the way they really are.

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