In a live-streamed press event this afternoon, Facebook announced new design and functionality changes that will give users “…a richer, simpler, more beautiful news feed. Focused on the things that you care about.”

Founder Mark Zuckerberg kicked off the event by speaking to the company’s vision for the future of the News Feed – specifically how they want it to become the very best personalized newspaper that it can be. He pointed out that 50% of the content being posted by users today is visual, but the current design confines your content feed to less than 40% of your screen. “How we’re all sharing is changing, and your news feed needs to reflect this changing face.”

So what are the changes to which Zuckerberg was alluding? Here are the major themes we heard about in the press event:

1. Less clutter, more imagery. As you can tell from the quote used as this post’s title, Facebook has caught on to the internet’s love of imagery and visual content. Your News Feed will soon reflect this trend with:

– New treatment of people/brands that showcases both profile images and cover photos (Concerned? Spiff up your cover photo right now)

– Bigger, better photo album post previews with multiple images

– Larger previews of the images (and text) in linked articles and videos

– Better representations of the content posted in 3rd party apps like Pinterest

2. View your news the way you want it. We care to see different things at different times when browsing Facebook. Sometimes you want to see if your favorite brands have any big news or special offers, sometimes you want to see what’s going on with your friends. Now you don’t have to see it all at once. You can now choose from a menu of choices that filter your content. These include options like news from all of your friends, posts from the brands you follow, posts related to music, an images-only feed, etc. Another cool feature? As you use this option, Facebook will learn what you are most interested in and prioritize those feed options for you.

3. Continuity, no matter where you browse. Mobile continuity was a big part of today’s announcement. That’s not too surprising considering mobile’s growing importance. One thing that was a bit of a surprise? Many of the features that will be consistent between the mobile and desktop versions started off in mobile, not the other way around. This makes a lot of sense, since one of the motivations behind these changes was to create a less cluttered appearance, and mobile versions tend to pare down a site to only the most necessary and interesting features.

What was not addressed in today’s event was how these changes will affect Facebook ads and sponsored stories. Once the new News Feed appears for us, we’ll be sure to keep you updated.

What do you think of the changes to News Feed? Are you excited, or hesitant? Tell use how you reacted to the news in the comments below.

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