I'll admit it's been a good six months since I used Facebook, and even then it was only for a few weeks prior to a year-long social networking hiatus. When rumors of a new Lite version hit the Net a few weeks back and the new interface went live last week, I set my prejudice aside to take it for a spin. (See our Facebook Lite slide show with a gallery of screen caps)
That's where I come in.
Facebook and I first crossed paths four years ago when I was a college freshman. Things were much simpler back then. You needed a college e-mail address to set up an account; there were few ads and no applications; and Myspace still dominated online social networking.
Facebook was everything that Myspace wasn't: aesthetically pleasing, simple; lacking trolls or tiled-animated-gif backgrounds. Users weren't allowed to have neon pink text against lime green backgrounds and I didn't have to listen to my friends' music selection when I visited their pages.
Unfortunately, as time progressed Facebook got more complex, and although never completely "Myspaced-out" it became too busy for my taste. I lost interest, and so did many other people I know.
After spending some quality time with Facebook Lite, I could see reactivating my account on a more permanent basis.
Lite is extremely fast. There's no more waiting for pages to load or hang time while trying to upload files.
The home page still features the Newsfeed with updates from your friends, and that's about it. No more sponsored links, highlights, or suggestions. The top of the page has three buttons: write, post photos, and post video. The top of my Newsfeed says I have one friend request and the right column shows me people I might know. (Click on the images to enlarge them.)
Lite is extremely clean. There is only one ad on each page (for now) and content is organized with tabs to limit the amount of information on any one page. The interface is slightly different, but intuitive enough that you can find what you are looking for in no time at all.
The most notable difference I've noticed between Facebook and the Lite version is that clicking on friends in Lite will actually show you a list of your friends. The default (at least for me) in the normal version takes me to a page with people I might know and prompts to import a contact list from my e-mail account. I have to click on the side-menu to go to my actual friends list. (Okay, so one click isn't a huge nuisance but if I had wanted to add friends I would have clicked on "Add Friends.")
Facebook Lite delivers on being a faster, watered-down version of the traditional site, which is either a good or bad thing depending on your social networking habits.
But the biggest thing Facebook has going for it is you don't have to dedicate yourself to one version or the other. If you're in a hurry and want to post a status update or check up on friends quickly, point your browser to Lite. When you have more time on your hands and want to chat while playing Mafia Wars, use the normal version.
If you haven't taken a look at Facebook Lite yet, check it out. Let us know what you think.