Facebook rearranged elements of the home page’s right sidebar yesterday, placing events at the top, pending requests near the bottom, and hiding upcoming birthdays behind the “See More” button under events. This update comes in a series of recent changes to the sidebar including the addition of a spontaneous events planner and RSVP manager to the sidebar.
When a user is invited to an event, attends, and enjoys themselves, Facebook’s value to their life increases. Events and their invitations expire over time, though, while friend requests, group invitations and Page suggestions do not. By moving events to the top of the right sidebar, Facebook is encouraging users to interact with them before they become dated.
Since the upcoming events box acts a social calendar, increasing the prominence of this box should reduce the chances of users forgetting about an event to which they’ve RSVP’d. For Facebook, ignored events and event invitations mean a loss of potential user engagement, making the emphasis on events lucrative to the site as well. The repositioning of stable pending requests, especially Page suggestions, runs contrary to moves like converting profile interests to likes which Facebook has made to increase the number of Pages to which a user is connected.
The upcoming birthdays sections, a part of the home page since the early days of Facebook, is now hidden unless users click the “See More” button at the bottom of their upcoming events — unless there’s nothing else to show. The previous inclusion of the birthdays of friends on the home page paved the way for one of the site’s most ingrained user behaviors: writing on a friend’s wall on their birthday.
By obscuring them behind an additional click, more users are likely to forget about birthdays and the practice may decline. This alteration to a longstanding feature may create some unrest, but as of press time we could not find any protest groups or Pages decrying the change.
Despite the rapid interface changes we’ve seen this week, the updates to how users share application content and app invites, promised for May 2010 on Facebook’s Developer Roadmap, remain to be seen. Further changes to how the inbox will sort app requests remain scheduled for 30 days after the update to sharing. These changes may influence app retention and conversion rates, so developers should keep a close watch.