A LOT of fuss has been made over the transition to the facebook design in the last 60 days, and understandably it is a big change to make to over 100 million people. However, most of those complaining really don’t understand why they are complaining, they just want an excuse to create a group and get a million people on it (so they can possibly spam you or use it to promote other things).
So let me break it down for you in simple terms.
As a facebook user:
The new design means your apps will be able to have better experiences (more screen space for them to fill for you) on the canvas area (the space inside http://apps.facebook.com/whatever ). The redesign also means your profile will be faster (not a billion boxes loading at once), which will make checking out your friends profiles less time consuming (less time = more profiles you can check out while at work). It also means applications will be forced to engage with you, not just reward your friends for spamming you (sorry if that was your favorite aspect of apps). So you should eventually get a richer experience out of the apps (the good ones at least).
As a marketer:
You now get more options on types of ads you can display to facebook users, you also get more engagement metrics to boot. But really the goldmine is in creating branding opportunities with the smart applications and application developers. Gone are the soft-touch applications that had a touch once and ignore forever relationship with their audience, you have to build truly engaging experiences to leverage the brand potential available to you. The tabs on the user profiles are a perfect place for self-expression and brand affinity, you just have to grab it.
As a developer:
You unfortunately have the most work cut out for you, but who knows, maybe you can get renewed business out of reworking the apps you built before. To a developer though, the changes are the most dramatic shift in the platform we’ve seen so far. You have to re-work the interactions and demands you are making of your users to build up something that has a more valid value proposition. What incentive does your app have to bring its users back? What activities or enhancements are you offering them? Realistically good application design hasn’t changed much from the previous platform iteration to now, you just have less incentive to use BAD app design to promote yourself. It also means this isn’t a real-estate grab as it once was, its an attention land rush. Attention we are going to learn is an incredibly valuable asset to possess in this new economy.
So what next? Where is this all heading? Well I think this all plays into my original theory of a multi-pronged approach, which I discussed a year ago. You need to use facebook as a net you are casting to engage users and drive their activities from wherever they are (in facebook our out) and figure out how to benefit from that traffic regardless of where it comes from.