Facebook has officially announced Timeline for Facebook Pages, giving developers and designers 30 days to make adjustments before the change becomes mandatory.
Having recently been tinkering with The BrainYard page at www.facebook.com/thebyard, trying to build it into the community resource it ought to be for readers, I took the jump and activated the new Timeline, after scrambling to make some quick changes. Although existing page tabs will display under the new layout, they are displayed differently, and there are several design and setup changes to be made.
Timeline for Pages looks great in the video Facebook released announcing the change, and on some of the pages whose designers got an early heads-up such as those for The New York Times, Lance Armstrong's Livestrong organization, and NBC's Today Show.
However, the Facebook Developers discussion thread on the changes is filled with more complaints than praise. Businesses that have been working with Facebook integration partners such as Buddy Media and Vitrue should have a smoother transition because those firms have been included in development preview briefings and have already made adjustments to their products. The challenge will be for organizations and individual developers who didn't have that access to quickly come up to speed.
One of the ways Facebook Page owners used to entice people to click the Like button on their pages was by defining a default page tab, usually displaying an image and message urging people to like the page in order to get access to subscribers-only content. After the visitor clicked the button, the page would refresh, displaying that special content. With the new design, those welcome pages are no longer supported.
Adjusting to the new design also requires some changes. Here is how the BrainYard page looked pre-Timeline:
And after I initially turned on the preview:
Note that the menu of tabs on the left-hand side of the page is gone. Instead, tabs are represented by the row of four icons at the top of the page. Photos is always shown as the first icon, but you can rearrange or select the others.