If you noticed that something seemed a bit “off” when you logged in to Facebook this morning, you’re not alone. Some members are seeing a new version of the top navigation bar as the company tests some small design changes.

Facebook often makes minor tweaks in an effort to stay fresh or to drive attention to specific feature. In this test, the social network has moved friend requests, messages, and notifications to the right of the screen, leaving the search bar on its own in the left corner.

While the company has remained tight-lipped on the reasons behind the test, it’s possible that Facebook is trying to draw attention to one of two areas, the first being the search bar. Facebook’s Sponsored Results — which enable you to target a specific app, Page, or Place within search results — are returning favorable outcomes for early adopters.

This could be Facebook’s way of not only encouraging more search action from its members, but enticing other brands to experiment with different types of Facebook advertising. The second possible reason for the test could be to put more focus on the right-hand side of the screen.

The right side of the screen is home to important updates, such as birthdays or engagement announcements, as well as advertising. By putting notifications and messages directly over these attention-grabbers, it’s possible that advertisers could begin seeing more clickthroughs and engagement.

Of course, this is just speculation and Facebook hasn’t commented on whether the new navigation bar will be released worldwide. We expect to see more minor tweaks and changes as the social network experiments further with search.

[Via: Inside Facebook, Image credit: West McGowan]