Facebook redesign

The long, painful and drawn-out death of skeuomorphic design lurched forward another step this week with a redesign by the world’s biggest social media site, Facebook.

The new look is spearheaded by a logomark that is a simplified version of the pre-existing one. Although the full Facebook logo will remain unchanged, the round-cornered square with the solitary ‘f’ has been carefully refined.

The blue strip, previously positioned at the bottom of the graphic as a nod towards a light reflection has been dropped. The letter ‘f’ has been enlarged, and the stem now connects with the outer edge of the square, creating the sense that the shape is a window through to something, rather than a box containing it. Conceptually, this tiny change makes a huge difference. The arms of the glyph have also been tweaked, with a longer protrusion on the left and a more acute angle on the right.


Along with the ‘f’ logo mark, other official pages have new icons. Facebook’s icons have always looked like something from a clipart CD circa 1998, so the new designs are a very welcome — and long overdue — update.

Viewed as a group they’re a little imbalanced with, for example, far less detail on the developers’ icon than the non-profits’. The only real complaint being that the similarity between security and privacy icons is pronounced.

It’s hard to see the redesign as anything but a positive move for the site.

US gov

What do you think of the new Facebook icons? Could you identify the icons without the accompanying text? Let us know in the comments.

Featured image/thumbnail, Facebook image via Tomislav Pinter / Shutterstock.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/emosewamai Andrew Hersh

    I don’t believe skeuomorphic design is dying.

    I also don’t believe it SHOULD die. I DO believe that people should use whatever approach to design works best for their content, message, and audience. When you declare a “trending” or “death” or “advent” or whatever of a certain approach to design, all you do is encourage people who treat graphic design as a technical field to CONTINUE treating graphic design as a technical field, and you push the actual artists out there to the fringes.

    If you aren’t an artist, you aren’t going to be a very good designer. Following trends is not going to help with that. You may fool clients into giving you money for something that looks a lot like what they are seeing in magazines and on billboards, but you will never deliver anything truly effective for them. You will be creating noise.

    Trendy designers are to design as rappers are to hip hop; a dime a dozen.

    • Benjie

      Well, something that isn’t alive can’t die. But skeuomorphic design, which is a trend itself (and one that has been vastly overused), is certainly in terminal decline. Even Apple, the great champions of skeuomorphic design are redesigning their interfaces.

      The fact is that fashions, trends and fads are perfectly valid design tools. If a client in 2013 wants their site to communicate that they were cutting edge in 2003, then skeuomorphic design is the way to go.

      • http://www.facebook.com/emosewamai Andrew Hersh

        “Cutting edge” in design is a myth. All it really means is that you are at BEST the 2nd arrival to the show (most likely the 10,000th arrival). Technology can be cutting edge. Effective design cannot.

        Again, if you are a bad designer, no trend will save you; if you are a good designer, no stigma will hold you back.

      • Benjie

        Actually, I meant the company wants to communicate that *their* product is cutting edge, not their website.

        Perhaps it would have been clearer to say that making use of a dated style makes the company (not necessarily the designer) look dated by association.

      • http://www.facebook.com/emosewamai Andrew Hersh

        I refer you back to my original post. If you stick to trends as your inspiration or rules for design because you think people won’t believe you’re relavent if your website doesn’t look like every OTHER website… I really have no clue how to continue the conversation.

        By following trends, you are doing nothing more than contributing noise.

      • Benjie

        I can’t agree. All design is about trends. Visual design is an unwritten agreement between parties. Without trends we wouldn’t have an alphabet, let alone typography.

        Where I agree with you is that you shouldn’t employ a technique just because it’s fashionable. But that’s not what trend means; there is a big difference between a ‘trend’ and a ‘fashion’.

      • http://twitter.com/petachon Peter Chon

        If something simply ceases to exist, then it’s basically dead – right?
        Anyways, Skeuo-whatever became a trend because designers who do not understand the principal behind it kept using it – just like how flat-design is becoming a trend.

        What you fail to realize is that Apple used Skeuomorphic design to make software less machine-like. The design was used so that people felt comfortable with whatever apps that they were engaging. Could you imagine people getting excited about using apps that’s just input fields?

        Stop with this “trends” BS. It’s only a trend if hipster designer uses it incorrectly.

      • Benjie

        No, you’re confusing ‘trend’ with ‘fashion trend’. It’s a trend if large enough numbers of designers use it, which they clearly are at present.

        Of course Apple had good reason for adopting the style, but there was good reason for musicians to use synthesisers in the 80s, it doesn’t mean they don’t sound dated now.

      • http://www.facebook.com/emosewamai Andrew Hersh

        I just re-read this post and I realized why it bothered me. I originally couldn’t put my finger on it, but here we go.

        Your comparison of the use of skeuomorphism to musicians using synthesizers in the 80s is absolutely spot-on, but your example is saying something that, I believe, is a 180* turn from what you think it is saying.

        Musicians used synthesizers in the 80s -in a way- that sounds dated now, but musicians NOW use synthesizers 10x more than they did in the 80s. The difference is the techniques of using synthesizers and the synthesizers themselves have all advanced and been honed (by good musicians) to be used in such a way that they no longer jump out at you and scream, “HEY! LISTEN TO THIS COOL SYNTHESIZER I’M USING RIGHT NOW!”

        This is precisely what I am talking about. Skeuomorphism is exactly the same as the synthesizer in your example. It isn’t the tool itself that is the issue, it is the fact that many people attempt to wield it without sufficient knowledge of how it works or how to best use it…

        You can use the handle of a screwdriver to pound in nails. It’s stupid, but you can do it. But the fact that you see someone using a screwdriver to pound in nails doesn’t mean that you declare the screwdriver to be a bad tool, or one that shouldn’t be used. Instead, you tell the person pounding in a nail with a screwdriver that he is an idiot, and maybe he should find a different line of work.

        Skeuomorphism is an incredibly useful tool. Removing it from the box because bad designers use it to do stupid things (or to attempt to cover up stupid things), leaves you NOW attempting to put a screw in the wall using a hammer.

    • designcouch

      I’m going to have to disagree with you there. I don’t know many people who view graphic design as a technical profession, but those that do are dealing with designers who create work that resembles that impression (read:bad).

      Skeumorphism is absolutely on the way out. As a practicing web designer, I’ve been waiting with baited breath for this to happen, as it is an old approach that eases people who are not familiar with technology into it by replicating familiar experiences they have with the physical counterparts to their new digital tools. While this was appropriate at the dawn of the digital age, we are no longer in the dawn – we’re in the full fledged daylight, and it’s time to start acting like it.

      In other words, skeumorphic design served a purpose, and one could even argue that it was necessary—but only temporarily. Now that the world has become accustomed to the digital lifestyle, it’s time to take off the skeumorphic training wheels and ride our bikes fast, as was intended.

      “Artists” may view the death of skeumorphic elements as sad, but I say it’s just a challenge to learn how to design in the modern age. Step up to the plate, instead of whining that you can’t do what you’ve been doing for a decade or more.

      • http://www.facebook.com/emosewamai Andrew Hersh

        You don’t know many people who view graphic design as a technical profession?

        Have you ever worked freelance? People are absolutely convinced that the only difference between us and them is that we know how to use the programs to create the idiotic things that come out of their heads.

      • thundavolt

        My bigest frustration.

    • bgbs

      responsive trend is basically shoving skeuomorphic design aside, because it is hard to make it both. With responsive we have another problem, which is, all website have the same uniform.

    • http://twitter.com/patrickcoombe Patrick Coombe

      Really interesting point . Regarding “…you will never deliver anything truly effective for them,” I really don’t agree with that. I am not a creative person by nature, and a lot of the designs that I create are based off of trends that I’ve come across as well as known interfaces that have been effective in the past. Am I doing wrong by my clients by using what delivers the best results, but might not be totally original?

      • http://www.facebook.com/emosewamai Andrew Hersh

        I would suggest that perhaps you are being presumptuous by assuming you have delivered the “best” results for your clients. You may have delivered results, and that’s awesome… but the “best” results pretty much always come from originality and creativity.

        On an unrelated note, I’ve always wondered why an individual who identifies themselves as lacking in creativity would choose design for a profession. I hope that doesn’t sound like an insult or anything; it’s a genuine mystery to me and I have never gotten the opportunity to ask.

  • http://twitter.com/trvrmcn Trevor McNaughton

    I think we are all using the term skeuomorphic a bit to flippantly. Facebook was never trying to be a digital metaphor for something physical, and their interface never reflected that. The only thing achieved by removing a bit of sheen from a logo is making it less tacky, it has nothing to do with it’s skeuomorphic qualities. There is a distinction that needs to be made between adding dimension to a design element and a UI directly imitating a physical object.

    • Benjie

      That’s interesting, you don’t think that adding fake light reflections, or making elements appear 3D mimics the real world?

      • Mario Jäckle

        Just a quick thought – doesn’t everything in webdesign mimic the real world? Dropshadows mimic … Dropshadows, things without shadows mimic simply things which have no dropshadow – let ist be papers laying on other papers… i think most things in the digital world are mimics from the real world – beginning with technologies like databases or the layer-concept to the design, witch uses all kinds of elements which where used for hundreds of years…

  • http://www.facebook.com/victor.rojo.9066 Victor Rojo

    Odd, ain’t it, that it isn’t dying on this website? When will that hideous nameplate ever be replaced?

    • http://dexteradams.me/ Dexter Adams

      I have to agree…the header on this website is ostentatiously atrocious.

    • designcouch

      Equally odd that you’re trying to draw a parallel… while the nameplate may be busy, it’s definitely not skeumorphic.

  • Benjie

    When I was starting out, it was accepted that a good designer didn’t use drop shadows, because a good designer could make elements pop and create depth with colour and contrast.

    Whilst I never really subscribed to that idea, it’s interesting that it’s become part of the grey area flat design purists do consider skeuomorphic. Simply because a screen has no depth.

  • Benjie

    When I was starting out, it was accepted that a good designer didn’t use drop shadows, because a good designer could make elements pop and create depth with colour and contrast.

    Whilst I never really subscribed to that idea, it’s interesting that it’s become part of the grey area flat design purists do consider skeuomorphic. Simply because a screen has no depth.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001050391527 Daniel Kim

    Even if everyone prefers flat design today, someday they will change their taste of design language anyway, simply because they’re gonna sick of it- and the same thing applies to skeuomorphism as well.

    By the way am I the only one who thinks flat design is like impressionism and skeuomorphic design is like realism?

  • Shaimoom Newaz

    Although I don’t the nip and tuck of the “f” symbol, I am disappointed by the clip-art like icons. They seem juvenile and not representative of the overall brand.

  • Andrew Hersh

    That’d all be great… if “skeuomorphic” and “flat” were not terms specifically regarding the visual appearance and entirely removed from the usefulness of a site. They are artistic terms in the way they’ve been used thus far, not technical terms.

    If you can’t make it beautiful AND useful, that’s a/your problem, but it isn’t solved by simply making things flat/ugly.