With yesterday’s major redesign, Twitter has managed to do something that it hasn’t done since it originally launched as a simple mass text messaging service: create a user-friendly, appealing web-based experience.
Simply put, it’s clean, well-designed, and extremely functional. And it exposes the best things about Twitter — and makes them far more accessible to new users, or people who are simply not interested in being power users.
It’s also clear that Twitter has not only found a business model (more on brand pages in a separate post), it has also found a way to articulate its value proposition to users. Along with the redesign comes a new home page that sums up not what Twitter is, but why you should care: “Welcome to Twitter. Find out what’s happening, right now, with the people and organizations you care about.”
(The new home page image also happens to hit on one of my personal favorite things about Twitter: the ability to connect with people from around the world.)
Top reasons I like #NewTwitter:
- #Discover. This is a potential game-changer for Twitter. I’ve never been a big user of content-discovery services like Digg or StumbleUpon because I always found that my Twitter stream did a better job of delivering relevant content to me. With the Stories tab on the #Discover page, Twitter has essentially created a content-discovery engine that is based on the interests I’ve already expressed through who I follow and what I tweet. So far, it seems to be remarkably on point. My top stories right now are a tweet about #NewNewTwitter keyboard shortcuts, a YouTube video about Google Currents, and a link to a TechCrunch story about the impact of social media on elections. 100% correct: every one of these are pieces of content I care about right now. (As if I needed more ways to procrastinate!)
- Keyboard Shortcuts. If, like me, you’re a big fan of keyboard shortcuts, I do not need to explain why this is awesome. If you don’t care about keyboard shortcuts, then just carry on. To bring up the shortcuts menu, type “?” from any page on Twitter:
- Embeddable Tweets. Twitter launched a tool to embed tweets more than a year ago. It didn’t work. Since then, we have all been in violation of Twitter’s guidelines for how to display tweets on a web site, every time we take a screen shot of a tweet. Now, there’s a simple “Embed this Tweet” underneath each tweet (from the status page), which opens a dialog box that lets you copy-paste the correct code into your blog post. The result is a fully-functional tweet, embedded right on your page, that lets readers interact with the tweet without leaving the site, like I did from Dennis VanStaalduinen’s blog post on why he likes the new Twitter:
@tonia_ries How very meta. Now if you link to your blog post within this stream, I’ll RT, then visit, then tweet from there…
— DennisVanStaalduinen (@DenVan) December9, 2011
- Functionality and User Experience. Want to see the picture that’s in the tweet? Great, here it is. Want to see the details on a tweet – who’s retweeted it, what the replies have been, etc.? Great – here’s a nifty button to “open” the tweet. Want to close all those tweets you’ve opened and just look at a clean timeline? No sweat, there’s a button at the top right of your page that lets you “Close all open Tweets.” Every detail of the user experience has been thought through in a way that Twitter has never achieved before, and which makes Facebook’s clunky design look even clunkier by comparison.
- Polite Advertising. Twitter’s last redesign launched just around the time that the company introduced its Promoted Products advertising model. Many users – myself included – were concerned that advertising would intrude on the user experience. In the new design, where everything has its place and is much more clearly labeled, the Promoted Products are far less intrusive. “Who to follow” is visually separated from “Trends,” so it’s easy to understand what the Promoted items at the top of each are and why they appear where they appear. Clarifying their role like this makes them far less intrusive to the user, and more likely to be seen as an acceptable part of a free service.
- It’s Newbie-Friendly. The world is currently divided into two kinds of people: those who get Twitter. And those who don’t. Over the last few years, I’ve spent untold hours trying to help the non-Twitter-addicts in my life understand why I spend so much time tweeting, only to be met with blank stares. I’ve devised various demo tricks to impress them, like getting all my followers to tweet “hello” to the new person. They politely act like they’re impressed, but quietly walk away having confirmed that Twitter’s just a big game that I’m wasting my time on. With this new design, those non-tweeters may or may not start tweeting–but I will no longer have to spend hours trying to explain what Twitter is for, because Twitter has made it plain and clear what it’s for: discovering content and connecting with people.