The tweets, they are a-changing. This week, Twitter announced a "major" redesign of its popular micro-blogging service, in a move aimed at attracting new users and big brands with a simpler, more intuitive interface and more opportunities for companies to show off their stuff. The new look will be rolled out in the coming weeks across Twitter.com, Twitter apps, and TweetDeck. (Watch a video demonstration here.) Here, four things you should know:
1. It's (supposed to be) easier for new tweeters
Twitter's message to "newbies" here is "try it, you'll like it," says Stephen Shankland at CNET. Twitter execs say the big empty text box on the old site was alienating for first-time users, so now the emphasis is on helping newcomers find content that interests them. The new interface has several friendly tabs, and potentially confusing concepts like hashtags have been re-branded for new users with less threatening action verbs, like "discover." A spokesperson says: "The new version of Twitter is a faster, simpler way to stay close to everything you care about."
2. It's also friendlier to brands and advertisers
Companies will be able to launch customized, branded pages and show embedded multimedia. Twitter says it's aiming to be "an even more compelling destination" for companies. Experts caution that Twitter must be careful that it doesn't "compromise users' experience" by getting too cozy with businesses. "It may make Twitter's members feel that its commercial interests are being put ahead of their own," says one digital consultant.
3. Twitter is becoming more like Facebook
The branded pages "look like a blatant borrowing" from Facebook, says Paul Sloan at CNET. And that's not the only part of the redesign reminiscent of Mark Zuckerberg and Co. While photos used to be a pain to tweet, they now handily appear as part of a tweet — sound familiar? "A big part of Facebook's appeal — and something that keeps users coming back and sticking around — is that it's an easy place to share and store your photos." Now Twitter is, too. New profile pages are also very Facebook-like. This "redesign sends a clear message to the social networking universe: Facebook, we're coming for you," says the International Business Times.
4. Conversations are easier to follow
"One of the more annoying things about the old Twitter design was the inability for users to follow conversations easily," says the International Business Times. No longer. Under the redesign, conversations and comments pile up beneath the original post. Yep, another Facebook-like move.
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