If you’re using Facebook mainly for connecting to friends and family you might have already switched over to Google+ in hope of well… something new.

But what if you’re not just using Facebook for personal but for professional use?

Professional? Facebook?

Yes, no matter if you like Facebook or not, it is still the world’s biggest referrer of Social Media traffic. It makes up for 65.89 % of Social Media traffic worldwide. (interestingly not Twitter, but StumbleUpon is second)

And traffic is like oxygen in the lungs of start-ups, small businesses, bands and educators. Let’s stop beating around the bush: We all need it.

Bad Design = Bad Experience

Some people look at design as a secondary feature: “It’s how it looks.” But it’s more than that: It’s how it feels, it’s how its built, whether it gives you warm and fuzzy feelings or makes you want to kick and scream.

Take Myspace for example: It was a Sodom & Gomorrah of animated gifs and purple backgrounds with green letters. It allowed users to customize almost anything which made the platform almost unusable.

And this is maybe why Facebook doesn’t give an inch in this respect. It’s take it or leave it.

Luckily, that doesn’t mean you can’t still change it.

Student developer Ansel Santosa created an extension for Google Chrome that lets you change everything about Facebook which is not nailed down.

There have always been user-scripts that allowed you to modify Facebook but Santosa’s “Minimalist for Facebook™” is the most comprehensive and easiest to use that I’ve seen so far.

Here’s a quick rundown of what you can do with it:

Colors, Distractions and Usability

If you’re not red-green color-blind like Mark Zuckerberg (yes, that’s really why Facebook is blue) you might want a change a scene sometimes.  Santosa’s extension lets you:

  • change the color of the blue header, background, highlights, etc

Don’t like Facebook’s “theater-mode” for viewing photos? Maybe you sometimes need to download your own pics? Sure, you could go ahead and just “remove &theater” from the URL to switch back to the old picture view but Minimalist for Facebook™ lets you

  • turn off the theater mode once and for all. period.

Maybe you really aren’t interested in who “poked” you or the people Facebook suggests as Friends in the sidebar on the right. How about those ads?

  • hide one of the sidebar elements or get rid of the whole thing completely.

Another interesting toggle of this extension is to “float the header”, meaning that if you maintain a heavy-traffic Facebook page and working yourself through it scrolling down you can take the header with you, as it were, instead of scrolling back up again.

This extension promises to “Individually hide almost 50 interface elements, custom colors, and more…” and I think that if used correctly it can help to improve your Facebook experience, reduce distraction and increase productivity by making it look and feel the way you need it to.

Whether this will make more people use Facebook again or simply is “hospice” as a friend called it, so far there is no real alternative to Facebook. Google+ is still in Beta.

And especially if you need Facebook for business, chances are you’ll be using it for quite a while.

So, why not make the best of it?

img: CC by gabo mendoza