Is Twitter's new look about users or ads?

Microblogging site's redesign is about keeping users on the site longer and encouraging more interaction.

Twitter's new look will get its share of cheers and jeers, but in the end the current users may not be the focus.

The redesign is about growth: keeping you on Twitter longer, encouraging more interaction, and with any luck, being less scary to the uninitiated.

Let's face it: old Twitter could be a bit jarring to newbies. What's unclear is whether Twitter's bid to look and act a bit more like Facebook--brand pages, tab menus, simpler designs, timelines on the right and enhanced profiles --will juice growth more. For good measure, Twitter launched two official apps for Apple's iOS and Android.

You can't look at Twitter's redesign--a development that as usual was amplified in the tech press--and not think a bit about motives. What exactly is Twitter trying to do? Here are a few thoughts:

Juice ad revenue. The brand pages scream interaction and ad dollars. As Gizmodo noted, the new Twitter is really for the lurkers. The game is to keep you around longer. All that speaks to ad engagement at some point.

Be less intimidating. Twitter has segmented itself into home, connect, discover, me and tweet tabs. Those tabs will look familiar to anyone on Facebook.

Drive traffic. Twitter traffic is impressive, but on comScore's top 50 site ratings the service is in the No. 30 range--typically just behind LinkedIn. Based on comScore data, Twitter had 24.5 million unique visitors in April, 30.65 million in June and 34.8 million in October.

In the end, Twitter wants you to stick around a bit more. It remains to be seen if Twitter gets stickier, but if it does a business model--and potential IPO--is likely to emerge fairly quickly.

This story originally appeared at ZDNet's Between the Lines under the headline "Twitter's new look: Is it about the new users or the ads?"

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