Facebook Lite is here. Verdict: Better

New slimmed-down social site is faster, easier, stronger, cleaner. Among other things, it pushes those noisy old-school Facebook applications off a cliff.

As expected , Facebook is slimming down. The new "Lite" version of Facebook is available for users in the United States and India, according to TechCrunch.

The new version of the site appears to be much cleaner and simpler. It appears, at a quick glance, to be a better site for Facebook newbies or for anyone who finds the current site overwhelming or noisy. It also pushes the old-school Facebook apps off a cliff, which is just as well for the newest Facebook-connected services. Try it at lite.facebook.com.

The major visual change in Facebook Lite, compared Facebook "Classic," is simply that most of the the navigation and info page that was on the left of the page is now gone. The user is not distracted by the mostly superfluous details that resided there. The input box is also gone, replaced by buttons (Write, Post Photos, Post Video) that pop down the actual input forms only when needed.

The new layout feels simpler and faster, almost Twitter-like .

The new Lite version of Facebook is cleaner and faster. Screenshot by Rafe Needleman/CNET

Facebook "Classic" has a lot of navigational elements and more data that make the site cluttlered, in comparison. Screenshot by Rafe Needleman/CNET

Other tweaks that diehards might notice: the "Friends" tab in the top navigation of Facebook Classic is missing in Facebook Lite, replaced by a new "Events" link that opens up a page of invitations.

All pages on the site seem to be affected. They are simpler, easier to read, and faster. They load faster, partly due to what appears to be HTML optimization at Facebook. My profile page in Facebook Lite weighed in at 11K, compared to 44K in the Classic version. However, the smaller pages may also come courtesy of a dramatically decreased advertising load, which I doubt we can count on continuing, once Facebook Lite enters the mainstream.

I like the Lite site more than the old Facebook and am moving over to it now. Nice job, Facebook.

Other Facebook news today:
Checkmate, Twitter: Facebook 'status tagging' live
Facebook open-sources real-time FriendFeed facet

 

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