This afternoon Twitter announced a "fly" new site redesign that focuses more on growth and less on making user experience better for loyal tweeters. Twitter billed the overhaul as a "simplified design," looking to make things easier for people who might otherwise fear Twitter's insider lingo and abbreviations. They give a whole tour for those who haven't gotten the update yet over here. The rest of the world can expect the update over the next few weeks. For those already indoctrinated into the Twitter world, the changes aren't for you. They're to attract the newbs.
This update isn't for people already deeply involved in Twitter, believes Gizmodo's Casey Chan
The focus seems to be more on watching a conversation occur and seeing a story happen rather than joining the conversation yourself (though you can still do that too, of course!). It's a major shift in ideology, one that's been a long time coming. And it makes sense, too; people are using Twitter less to say what they had for lunch and more to follow breaking news and high-level debate.
Rather, the new design will draw more users, keep them on longer, and make the site more valuable to advertisers explains Bits Blog's Somini Sengupta. To do this, Twitter's trying to fix the "its hard to use" perception, defining the @ and # symbols, continues Sengupta
The new look for Twitter, which is rolling out first in applications for Apple and Android phones, has three new tabs that Twitter hopes will make the service simpler for the uninitiated to use: a personal home page, marked by a birdhouse icon; an “@ connect” tab signifying conversations, people and brands; and a “# discover” tab for keywords and topics. Clicking an old-fashioned quill symbol lets a user compose a message.
Specifically, the @ connect tab, focuses on following conversations, making it easier for those who use Twitter to see what's happening, Read Write Web developer Jared Smith explained to the blog's Alicia Eler.
Now "mentions" does not include new followers, people who favorite your tweets. It is only about people who directly @ mention you. Everything else gets dumped into the "interactions" feature. For those who don't want to sift through the two to pick out actual conversation-worthy @ mentions and passerby-type mentions, this could be helpful. On the flip side, it might just make for unnecessary back-and-forth between the two spaces, which ultimately could slow down the user experience instead of speeding it up.
For those scared of the # symbol, Twitter has also changed its function as a discovery tool. It's now designed to lure people who might not be interesting in the act of tweeting, explains GigaOm's Colleen Taylor.
The redesign also positions Twitter as an accessible source for news in a way that it hasn’t done before. The site’s new “discover” tab may be the most important element of the redesign as it presents the most relevant, newsy content on Twitter in a way that’s personalized to each user.
This could solve the problem that many people see with Twitter: They don’t use the site because they “don’t have anything to say.” Now, Twitter is positioning itself as a valuable service for everyone, whether they actively contribute content to the site or not.
And in tandem with making the site more mainstream, it has also conveniently made brand pages prettier, explains TechCrunch's Erick Schonfeld.
The two big changes are a new banner just below the profile information that stretches across the page and the ability to pin a tweet at the top of each brand’s stream. This will give brands a more distinctive presence on Twitter, and should roll out more widely in the first quarter of 2012.
The site's clearly trying to get advertisers interested, adds Forbes's Robert Hoff.
It’s clear that Twitter is trying to make the site more friendly to brands. Check out this Disney/Pixar page provided by Greg Sterling on Search Engine Land, for instance ... Looks pretty slick, especially for Twitter, whose interface and opportunities for brand interaction with consumers have been spartan at best to date.
For those looking for a peek at how it works, Twitter provides a video tour, which plays off of the Google tug-at-our-heartstrings ads. It's not as effective or explanatory.