Twitter’s Big Change

Twitter birdTwitter has started rolling out its new web interface to users. You may wonder why this is such a big deal, but according to Twitter, 78% of Twitter users access the service through the web site, making it the perfect place to go about reinventing itself. While there are a lot of overall differences between the old site and this new one, there are four key features which Twitter outlines when discussing the changes:

  1. Updated design that provides space for all its other features and eliminates the “more” button to see additional tweets.
  2. Media is now embedded right in the page when someone links to a YouTube video, Flickr photo, or videos/photos from more than a dozen other sources.
  3. Related content based on the tweet you’ve selected, such as a map or list of tweets from that user.
  4. Mini profiles are now shown when clicking a username, bypassing the need to go to another page and lose your place.

This video from Twitter shows the changes in action, sans explanation. You may want to jump to 1:06 in order to bypass all the intro music and hipster aesthetic.

Most of these features are already available through third-party Twitter clients (TweetDeck, Seesmic, Echophone, etc.). Users of these tools may be unlikely to start using the web interface partly because some of these tools offer additional features, such as scheduled tweets, multiple account management, shared tweet-tracking across desktop and mobile platforms, and other features that just aren’t available on

The 22% of users who don’t use (taking Twitter’s numbers) probably reflect the power users, the ones who use Twitter for more than casual tweeting. I would certainly be more interested in seeing the breakdown of tweet per client (to see if that 78% holds true for web site activity), not a breakdown of users who logged in at least once a month (the current measurement). I suspect those numbers would go far to ease the concerns of Twitter clients that perhaps their market is collapsing.

Nowhere in this discussion from Twitter do I see anything addressing how this will affect the mobile interface. Up until I got my Android phone, I was using the mobile Twitter interface in Opera Mobile on my Windows Mobile phone (that’s a lot of instances of the word “mobile”). I still use the mobile site because the Twitter app for Android isn’t terribly compelling. If Twitter can update its mobile app to account for some of these new features, then it might be on par with the mobile third party clients. I somehow doubt Twitter will be trying too hard to update the mobile interface for the web site.

Looking at the new Twitter interface, I can see similarities to Facebook at a very basic level, and I can also see where they can start to slot advertising. Now I wonder what the next steps will be and how far in those two directions they’ll go.


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