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Facebooks Redesigns Site, Turns 6

Mon, 02/08/2010 - 8:36am

NEW YORK (AP) -- Facebook is redesigning its site yet again, this time to better emphasize applications, games and search.

Links and items have moved around the home page as Facebook tries to streamline navigation and make games and apps stand out more.

The latest evolution continued Friday after Facebook started rolling the changes out late Thursday, the company's sixth birthday. The changes were being made in stages, so not all users were seeing them right away.

The world's largest online social network has continuously morphed its home page as it's grown from a closed hub for college students to a Web and mobile destination for 400 million people worldwide.

Past changes have sparked protests from many users, though Facebook says it makes them to serve its audience better. Facebook says that it conducts months of testing and that many users request such changes.

With the latest redesign, links to friend requests, messages and comment notifications are no longer scattered around and now reside on the top of the page.

On the updated site, the search box stands out more. Microsoft Corp., which powers Facebook search and advertising, said Friday in a blog post that search results on the social site will go beyond just links to include "richer answers combined with tools that help customers make faster, smarter decisions."

Under a new agreement, Microsoft will run text ads next to Facebook search results worldwide, rather than only in the U.S. as was the case before. However, Microsoft loses the right to sell display ads - the online billboards that command more money than search ads, but aren't as lucrative yet. Facebook will now sell those ads directly.

Facebook's chat feature also becomes more prominent with the redesign. Users can now see friends who are currently online without clicking on a link. This doesn't include all friends, only the ones they communicate with often.

There are also new links on the left that take users to online dashboards where they can organize games and applications and find new ones by seeing what their friends use. Games such as "Farmville" and "Mafia Wars" have surged in popularity on Facebook.

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