Twitter unveiled a series of design tweaks to its web and mobile interfaces Tuesday, in an effort to make the communication service more visual and to unify its appearance across its various platforms. Now tweeters, including businesses and brands, can add a splashy new cover photo to their profile à la Facebook, in keeping with Twitter's strategy to move away from a text-based service to something more immersive and image-based. Some commentators point out that the facelift could make the platform more attractive to advertisers (for whom the cover photo will be akin to a large ad), but will going the Facebook route necessarily be good for business?
It's all about consistency: Twitter's changes are "relatively minor, in a way," says Matt Buchanan at Buzzfeed. But for "the first time ever," the service will look consistent across the four platforms it considers important — the iPhone, Android, iPad, and web. This is good news from an advertising point of view: "It's a lot harder to sell ads to folks if you don't know what the ads are going to look like when they land on somebody's phone." I suspect this will make Twitter's pitch to buyers a lot easier.
"Say hello to the new Twitter"
Brands will love it: The change is "completely aesthetic," says Matt Brian at TheNextWeb, and one that "doesn't include any new operational features"; Twitter at its core stays the same. But the cover photo, in particular, could prove to be a smart design choice if Twitter wants to become a more appealing platform for advertisers. A free, large display at the top of every profile is "perfect for brands" that want to promote new products or services without tinkering with additional settings.
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The changes aren't special, but they are revealing: The updates are "a little underwhelming" on their own, critic Lauren Dugan tells CNET, but they do showcase what's next for Twitter. Quite simply: The company "doesn't make as much money when a user sees tweets through a third-party app." Now, it's limiting its API to make it harder for the "hodgepodge of [third-party] apps" like Hootsuite to rope in users (Hootsuite users won't see the new cover photos, making the app less attractive to advertisers), while simultaneously aligning its own apps under a "consistent user experience umbrella." Effectively, they're giving third-party developers — who some critics say the service was built on — the shaft, albeit a necessary one that "will allow them to capture more of their user base, and ultimately serve up more [ads] to increase their revenue."
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