Twitter Launches Major Redesign

The new user interfaces gives Twitter users easy access to video, pictures and other content linked to others' tweets while offering marketers a more robust platform to target customers.
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Twitter is rolling out a major redesign of the website that will likely have people spending a lot more time on the micro-blogging site. The new features, introduced Tuesday, will be rolled out over the next few weeks. The changes are significant because they provide easy access to content related to tweets, such as video, pictures and maps.

In the short term, the new interface will make "faster, easier and more engaging" for users, Augie Ray, analyst for Forrester Research said. "Twitter's new web functionality is a significant evolution that promises to attract more visits to, improve Twitterers' interactions with content and each other and ease adoption for Twitter newbies," Ray said in his blog.

In the long term, the changes will offer marketers a far more robust platform than what exists today to reach Twitterers. The company claims to have more than 145 million registered users.

"The long-term effects could be substantial as Twitter focuses on powering growth by improving Twitter consumption, which will in turn make Twitter a more powerful platform for influence marketing," Ray said in a new report entitled "Twitter's New Interface Will Drive More Reach For Marketers."

At first glance, the new interface doesn't appear much different than the previous one. That's because the left-side column containing the tweet stream is largely untouched. The difference is when a person clicks on a tweet, which populates the right-side column with whatever content has been linked to the mini-message.

For example, if the tweet has been linked to video from Twitter partners, such as Justin.TV, USTREAM, Vimeo and YouTube, then the video will appear. The same will happen if the tweet creator linked pictures from services such as DailyBooth, Flickr and Twitpic.

If a person posts a tweet from a location-based service, such as Foursquare, than a map showing where the tweet was sent will be displayed. If a link to a product on Etsy or other e-commerce site partnering with Twitter is included with the tweet, than an image of the product will be displayed.

Twitter also has made it easier to access profile information of users. Clicking on the user name in a tweet will get a mini-profile that includes bio and recent tweets. This feature is meant to make it easier for people to find others to follow.

The list of Twitter partners that will send content when linked in tweets includes some unexpected companies. One, for example, is Kiva, a micro-lending site that lets people lend small amounts of money to entrepreneurs as a way to fight poverty.

Over the next several weeks, people will have the option of switching back and forth between the new and old user interfaces, in order to give people time to get use to the changes. In time, the new user interface will be the only one available.

"While any change in interface can cause complaints from long-time users, I believe the new will meet with strong user acceptance," Ray said.


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