SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter launched a site-wide redesign on Thursday, completely reworking the user interface in an effort to be better understood to a wider audience.
‘We can and have an obligation to reach every person on the planet.’
The redesign, which is currently being rolled out to users over the next few weeks on mobile devices and the web, consolidates a number of Twitter’s existing features into four separate categories, the better to organize a growing sense of information overload.
“We have to provide the simplest and fastest way for people around the world to connect with everything,” Twitter CEO Dick Costolo told a news conference.
Despite its massive user base and near ubiquity in mass media, Twitter continues to face an uphill battle. The service comes with its own language composed of “@” signs and hashtags, a mish-mash of acronyms and web jargon. Though the platform has penetrated early adopters, entertainment companies and some major advertisers, a broad swath of consumers aren’t entirely clear on what the language means. The new home screen features a tabbed bar, prominently displaying buttons that correspond to the more nuanced language of the service. So now, users can click on the “@” button at the top of their feed to search for a specific user, brand or business. Similarly, the “#” button lets users search by subject matter.
“People are using ‘at signs’ and ‘hashtags’ everywhere,” said co-founder and executive chairman Jack Dorsey. “We need to bring meaning to this syntax.”
Continue reading ‘Courting Users and Brands, Twitter Gets a Face Lift‘ …
Since its launch in 2006, the microblogging company’s user base has swelled to over 100 million people, casting over 200 million tweets per day.
The massive growth, however, is as much of a problem for the company as it is an asset. Searching for content associated with a specific hashtag can be a messy proposition, as there is no relevance attached to any given Tweet that someone has tagged. In other words, every hashtag is born equal, even if the Tweets themselves are surely not.
It’s a problem for any kind of search — news in particular. But it’s a nightmare for major brands and businesses who want to use Twitter to burnish their brands — and consequently for Twitter, which would love to become a kinder, gentler environment for more advertising revenue. Competitors like Google+ and Facebook both have highly visible brand pages with a great reach — users can “like” Facebook pages and “+1? businesses, which then become visible to their friends. So in turn, other users are able to approach the brand through their circle of friends.
“The main feedback we got,” said Dorsey, “was that they wanted greater access, greater approachability…and a better way to access their content.”
But instead of adding more features to keep up, Twitter’s answer is to streamline. “As other services tack feature after feature after feature on top of one another, we’re going for simplicity,” said Costolo in a thinly veiled swipe at competitors Facebook and Google+.
Convincing advertisers that their products will be visible to consumers, then, is crucial. Despite the massive user growth and hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital funding, the service has struggled to successfully monetize its product. Earlier efforts include the introduction of promoted Tweets — giving businesses the opportunity to have their tweet appear at the top of a search query for a fixed period of time — and more recently the company said it was testing self-serve with small businesses, essentially an automated system that doesn’t require customers to deal with Twitter employees to purchase ad space.
If these sounds like familiar revenue models, it’s because they are. Google made its billions pioneering the self-serve advertising model, while it’s estimated that 60 percent of Facebook’s global revenue comes from self-serve ads, according to Internet research firm E-Marketer. Twitter’s self-serve ads will launch in a fuller capacity in the near future.
Part of the new product roll-out includes enhanced brand pages for businesses. The new pages also went live on Thursday with 21 advertising partners, as well as a number of charities and personalities, Twitter says.
The challenge now, it seems, is to translate Twitter’s interface to the world at large, which in turn will make it more likely for advertisers to adopt the service’s new ad products.
In order to do this, that means growth. Internally, the company has been expanding rapidly in 2011, growing from around 200 employees to upwards of 700. The company plans to keep hiring, according to Costolo, recruiting engineers in their offices in London, New York, Toyko and more. Further, Twitter expects to move into a new headquarters in 2012, composed of three floors at 220,000 square feet in downtown San Francisco.
Ultimately, Twitter’s aim is to be widely understood, widely adopted and obviously, wildly profitable.
“We can, ” Costolo said, “and have an obligation to reach every person on the planet.”