It may be a little too early to do a roundup of the best redesigns of 2008 like we did last year, but with Thursday's one-two punch of new looks for social sites Twitter and FriendFeed, it's a good chance to take a look back at some of this year's redesigns and talk about what was changed or fixed.
I've picked 10 of my favorites below, listed in no particular order. See also the honorable mentions section at the bottom of the post, which includes content sites or other places that didn't quite make the cut.
Twitter's redesign was a twofold change: one part to simplify the interface, and another to reduce the resources needed to host the site. Now when users hop between various functions it doesn't reload the entire page, meaning a faster experience and less data to serve.
The most interesting part of the redesign is actually something we don't know about. The tabbed interface on the right was apparently set in place to make room for additional features as they become available. It could be the new things from Twitter itself, or the foundation for special developer-created applications users will be able to use without leaving the service.
The "new" Facebook was one of the most drastic changes of any site this year. Like Twitter, tabs took center stage, as did the chat which shares screen real estate with what's essentially the "start" button on Windows. This new menu let users launch networked applications from any page they're on. The change also embraced widescreen displays, making use of the extra room to let users build out the experience horizontally instead of having to scroll up and down.
You can read more about it, and the user backlash, here.
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