Hundreds of millions of people around the world have set up a Facebook account, and with that account comes perhaps one of the most important pages on the internet: the Facebook profile page.

Given Facebook’s popularity, which shows no immediate signs of waning, one might assume that Facebook would be content to leave the profile page as it is. As they say, if it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it. But that’s not Facebook.

In an effort to simplify the Facebook profile page and make it more relevant to users, Facebook yesterday unveiled an overhaul to its profile page. Notable updates:

  • A “quick overview of basic information” has been added to the top of the profile page, which makes it easier for others to get up to speed with who someone is and what he or she is doing.
  • A row of photos that have recently been tagged with the user who the profile page belongs to follows just below that basic information.
  • Featured Friends‘ functionality has been implemented, which gives users the ability to highlight those people who are most important to them.
  • Top navigation has been moved to the left-hand side, just below the main profile photo.
  • The ‘Info‘ tab has been completely rethought. As TechCrunch’s Jason Kincaid explains, “the dozens of text links representing your
    Interests have been converted to images whenever possible, giving you a more
    visual overview of the person.
    ” There are also new interest categories, such as Sports, and users have the ability to get more detailed with their sharing. For instance, it’s now possible to describe projects you’re working on at your job.
  • The ‘Photos‘ tab now has “infinite scroll” functionality, and searching can be done directly from within the ‘Friends‘ tab.

Facebook has faced its fair share of user backlashes in the past, and it’s only natural that some users will be opposed to any changes. Facebook says it expects these updates to be rolled out to “everyone by early next year” but it’s unclear how long users will be able to continue using their existing/old profiles for.

The good news for Facebook is that its profile updates aren’t, for instance, going to raise privacy concerns. Rather, they seem like sensible changes that Facebook is making after evaluating how users actually use the company’s product in the real world.

They also have the impact of making Facebook’s profile pages look a little more inviting visually. When Facebook was still doing battle with MySpace for social networking dominance, one of the criticisms oft-leveled at Facebook was that its profile pages were too rigid and boring. MySpace’s, of course, allowed for almost unlimited personal expression to a fault. While consumers voted with their mice in Facebook’s favor, the company’s latest updates add some welcome visual touches that should liven up the social network just a little bit.

Photo credit: jaycameron via Flickr.