Updated 9:26 am ET, Friday, December 9
Twitter unveiled a major redesign of its popular microblogging website on Thursday designed to make it “faster and simpler,” and more accessible to those outside of its current base of 100 million active users.
The company promoted the redesign on (where else?) Twitter under the hashtag #LetsFly and posted a space-themed YouTube video demonstrating the site’s basic new features, which include new brand pages, a re-oriented webpage and new, separate tabs for “@replies,” Twitter’s mode of back-and-forth communication between users, and “hashtags,” the topical groupings of tweets denoted by the “#” symbol.
The new design, which also dramatically flips the Twitter stream from the left side of the screen to right, went into effect immediately for Twitter’s mobile apps on Android and iPhone and for its mobile website, as well as recently-acquired third-party client Tweetdeck.
The company said that it would be rolling out the redesign for all users “over the next few weeks.” Users on Twitter took to calling it #NewTwitter or #NewNewTwitter, following the last major redesign in September 2010.
“What we’re announcing today is just the beginning,” Twitter wrote in a blog post. “We now have a framework in place that we will quickly build and iterate upon to help users connect with whatever is meaningful to them.”
By freak coincidence, the redesign was introduced on Thursday around the same time that users began Tweeting reports of a fatal shooting on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Twitter’s co-founder and executive Chairman Jack Dorsey and CEO Dick Costolo introduced the new design at a press event at Twitter’s new headquarters in San Francisco’s historic Market Square building.
“Twitter should be usable for people who know the shortcuts and also equally usable for those who don’t,” said Dorsey, also the executive of mobile payments company Square, All Things D reported.
In addition, Twitter was upfront about fact that the website’s new Brand Pages provide improved opportunities for one of the company’s most coveted user subgroups: advertisers.
“A tweet’s only 140 characters,” Twitter’s chief revenue officer Adam Bain told Ad Age. “[Brand page are] like an invitation to learn more. When consumers want to learn more, spend more time or get deeper in terms of engagement, we think they’ll end up on the brand page.”
Specifically, Twitter’s new Brand Pages allow advertisers and businesses a new space to post a larger banner logo toward the top of their page, and the ability to keep a specific Tweet static at the top of the timeline (rather than having it flow downward in reverse-chronological order as new Tweets are posted). The Brand Pages also offer separate Tweet streams for correspondence with users and public Tweets, which should allow companies to better organize and manage their communication on the platform.
For basic users, the new redesign’s philosophy is predicated on four new tabs that users can toggle between to get a different view of all the 200 million tweets per day floating around out there: “Home,” “Connect,” “Discover,” and “Me.” Here’s a brief rundown of each.
This is the default view of the new Twitter in which users can see all of the tweets from the people they are following, including larger views of embedded rich media, such as photos and videos.
“Home is where you view Tweets from the people you have chosen to follow,” explained Twitter’s new instructional page. “It’s your personal collection of Tweets, featuring the latest news, commentary and information from the sources you care about.”
This tab allows Twitter users to see all of their correspondence with other users, including back-and-forth correspondence “@replies,” Favorited Tweets (denoted by a gold star) and “Retweets,” the automatic republishing of a person’s tweet by another user.
Arguably the most radical of Twitter’s re-introduced new features, the “Discover” page completely overhauls the current grouping of topical tweets, hashtags, moving the emphasis away from Twitter’s “Trending Topics,” the most popular hashtags or phrases in a given area, towards more diverse, specific hashtag topics that users might be interested in, based on their locations, the users they follow and current trends.
Twitter users can also now click on a number of sub-tabs underneath this tab, including a new “Browse Interests” section that surfaces users based on general topics, such as “Music” and “Sports.”
Twitter’s redesigned profile pages are perhaps the most constant from the old design, retaining the user’s short bio, squarish user photo and their own stream of Tweets, along with a small window showing the most recent three photos they’ve posted.
Importantly, Twitter also points out that it’s refreshed “Tweet button,” the bread-and-butter of the website, the blank white text field at the top allowing users to post up to 140 characters. This now includes an autocomplete feature that seems to have been imported directly from Tweetdeck, the third-party Twitter client that was a stand-alone company until Twitter acquired it in May for an estimated $40-something million.
We’ve reached out to Twitter for more information on the process that led to the new redesign and what new changes are coming next and we’ll update when we receive a response.
Late update: A Twitter spokesperson emailed TPM with the following statement explaining some of the decision-making that went into the new design, including the decision to flip the horizontal axis of the page:
“We changed the layout to reflect designs visible throughout the web and social products. People are accustomed to accessing navigation from the left side of the page and reading primary content on the right side of the page. We also reduced the number of navigation options to simplify the product.”
The spokesperson also notes that the official redesign name is just “Twitter,” plain and simple. Guess all that talk of “Lets Fly” and “New New Twitter” is just noise.