Twitter launches major redesign

The microblogging site launches new apps and redesigns its Web site in a bold attempt to make itself more relevant--and, presumably, profitable.

Daniel Terdiman Former Senior Writer / News
Daniel Terdiman is a senior writer at CNET News covering Twitter, Net culture, and everything in between.
Daniel Terdiman
4 min read
Twitter redesign
Here's a look at the major redesign Twitter unveiled today. Screenshot by CNET

Twitter rolled out a major redesign that revamps some of its biggest features and includes new apps for iOS and Android, in a bold attempt to make itself more relevant--not to mention more attractive to advertisers.

The main idea behind the redesign is to fundamentally change how users will access their most important tweets and the most significant information they convey. For instance, Twitter has decided to link its service to the notion of "home," and to try to rebrand the hashtag--one of its users' most ingenious inventions--as the "discover" tool.

At the same time, Twitter is launching its first branding pages in an attempt to steal some of Facebook's thunder with advertisers.

With the moves today, Twitter is making it clear that it wants users' experiences to be the same, regardless of where they access "Home." That means that users should be able to see all the same information, via Home, on their computer or their mobile device--iPhone or Android. Twitter said that it will be rolling out the changes to its Web site over "the next few weeks," although it appears some users are already seeing them, but that users of its new mobile apps will see the redesign immediately.

Here's a Twitter video outlining the redesign:

As well, Twitter is acknowledging how important the inclusion of photos and videos is to its users, and will now give everyone the ability to expand any tweet to show everything from retweets to photos and videos.

Home is where you view Tweets from the people you have chosen to follow. It's your personal collection of Tweets, featuring the latest news, commentary and information from the sources you care about.

It's now easier and faster to see the information that matters most to you. Immediately access your favorite features from the lefthand side. Photos, videos and conversations are embedded directly in Tweets so you can see the whole story at a glance. And now everything in Home will appear consistently across computers, iPhones, and Android mobile phones.

Tabbed sections
Twitter's new design is built around the idea of tabbed sections. The first is Home, where users will see all their incoming tweets, and have the ability to expand those tweets if they want to see photos, videos, and so forth. The next section is Connect, where users "get in on the conversation." That means that the Connect tab is where users can quickly see their new followers, as well as who has taken any kind of action on their tweets, such as mentioning them (@ replying), retweeting, or favoriting them.

Twitter Connect tab
And here is the Connect tab on the newly redesigned Twitter. Screenshot by CNET

And the Discover tab is all about hashtags, except in a way that Twitter says will be much more personalized.

"When you use Discover," Twitter wrote, "you'll see results reflecting your interests--based on your current location, what you follow and what's happening in the world. As you use Twitter more, Discover gets even better at serving up more content just for you."

Clearly, Twitter wants to give users a reason to access it via its Web site, and via Twitter's official mobile apps. Many users, of course, won't ever see these new features because they use one of the many available third-party apps.

Only the latest redesign
While any big Twitter redesign is certainly notable, it's hardly the service's first. Just over a year ago, Twitter announced a serious overhaul of its Web site, saying at the time that it was promising a "faster, richer" user experience that would do a better job of letting people access tweets' rich content--like photos and video.

Since then, that new design has become Twitter's Web standard for all users, but it never really caught fire. That may explain why the company decided to pursue the latest big move. To be sure, today's news has more meat than last year's, but it's worth asking how many users will get excited about a new way to interact with their tweets. Obviously, the company hopes it will strike a nerve, but with so many people using third-party apps, and others showing that they didn't get too excited about the previous redesign, it remains to be seen how big the impact of the new overhaul will be.

Branding pages
That said, another very significant move for Twitter today is the launch of its own version of branding pages, a step that is intended to challenge Facebook's current preeminence as the social location where major advertisers connect with users. Twitter's take has two major elements:

  • Advertisers can have large customized headers adorned with their logos. Brands have the option to park any tweet at the beginning of their timeline.
  • Brands can also separate out and highlight their own "@ replies" and mentions. This could be a big deal for companies who'd like to be in constant conversation with their customers, but who don't want that back-and-forth to dilute their own message.

AdAge also reported that Twitter is launching its branding pages with 21 advertising partners. The list is a who's-who of major brands, and includes Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, McDonald's, Nike, PepsiCo, Verizon Communications, and many others.

New apps
In order to ensure that all Twitter users can access the service's redesign as quickly as possible from as many places as possible, Twitter has put out brand new versions of its iPhone and Android apps.

Please stay tuned for more from CNET on Twitter's big moves today.

Update 11:06 a.m. PT: Added information on branding pages and the new Twitter mobile apps.

Update 10:35 a.m. PT: Added more information about the different sections of the new Twitter site redesign.

Update 10:20 a.m. PT: Added information about the importance of mobile devices.