Twitter’s bold redesign: chasing Facebook’s cash cow?

6 Apr 2011

Reports emerged overnight that Twitter has begun rolling out new homepage features that show a radical redesign and seamless integration with YouTube, Vimeo and Flickr. All of this seems designed to keep you glued to … well, your Twitter homepage.

The newly designed homepage now places @mentions, retweets, searches and lists just above your timeline, creating a single streamlined view to the left of the screen. On the right are new followers, favourites and trending topics.

The new-look Twitter began manifesting on various users’ pages in the US throughout last night.

It comes just a week after founder Jack Dorsey returned to a more permanent role at Twitter and the growing realisation that Twitter needs to become more social and less elite if it wants to keep users and grow its advertising base. A study of 260m tweets by Yahoo Research that contain shortened URLs found that 50pc of all content consumed on Twitter is generated by only 20,000 users. If this is right, then it’s astonishing when you consider Twitter has 200m users worldwide.

The new Twitter

The redesign comes amid reports that Twitter CEO Dick Costolo and its revenue president Adam Bain are hard at work on Facebook-style branded pages that could deliver tailored messages in a drive to create new revenue streams. Similar to Facebook Pages, the branded pages will provide brands with their own space to deliver content and encourage Twitter users to follow them.

In terms of the new design, it seems Twitter is determined to be a place where users can happen by and not feel they are missing anything despite the frenetic pace of tweets. Again, this seems to be a move calculated to take on Facebook for users and could turn Twitter into a popular destination rather than a busy highway.

For example, the new design makes it easier to see embedded photos and videos through partnerships with Plixi, Twitgoo, Vimeo, YouTube, TwitVid, Justin TV, Kickstarter and Kiva, to name a few.

A new details pane makes it easier to discover related content. When users click a tweet, the details pane shows information related to the author or subject. Depending on the tweet’s content, users may see @replies or a map from where a geotagged tweet was sent from.

As well as this, users can now click an @username and see a mini profile without having to navigate away from the page.

Twitter says the changes will roll out as a preview over the next several weeks and users will be able to switch back and forth until they become accustomed to the bold new design.

I think these are smart moves by Twitter, which, in a drive to become more revenue positive wants to be a truly social destination, a place people will hang out and be more engaging for all rather than a few. If it accomplishes this, then rival Facebook truly has a battle on its hands.

Twitter mini profile

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years