By Jack M. Germain
Jul 17, 2019 10:45 AM PT
Twitter on Tuesday unveiled a fresh new look for its desktop website that mimics the look and feel of its mobile platforms.
The company has been testing a new version of its desktop website since the beginning of the year. The most noticeable change is the organization and layout of the Twitter home screen itself.
The upgraded design simplifies navigation with a new and larger left-hand sidebar that directs you to all of Twitter’s key sections: Notifications, Direct Messages, Explore, Bookmarks and Lists. A key goal was making conversations easier to find and follow.
Gone is Twitter’s old boxy look for everything from borders to buttons and avatars, noted Katie Sievert, senior software engineer, and Jon Koon, staff software engineer, in a post on the redesign.
The new look was driven by a change to component-basic design strategies that built in more than one hundred components. That process makes it easier for engineers to reuse, modify and test website elements.
The update gives Twitter a stronger foundation for bringing updated features at a faster pace. It was the next phase in creating a look and feel more consistent with Twitter’s appearance on other devices, the company said.
This update makes it easier to access favorite features, and offers more options to make Twitter more personalized. It also makes using the desktop website easier and more inviting.
The new Twitter design is definitely different — less formal and more “in your face,” observed long-time Twitter user Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.
“Like any advertising-based business, it is all about eyeballs. The company is hoping to grow its regular user base so as to increase ad rates and revenues. If it delivers the improved user engagement Twitter is looking for, the complaints will be easy to ignore,” he told TechNewsWorld.
It is more likely that the massive website platform redesign was needed to support an ongoing marketing effort. Most of the tweets about the new design that King has seen so far have been negative.
“Complaints come with the territory on Twitter, and people are generally resistant to changes in websites they use regularly,” he pointed out. “That said, I haven’t seen many people saying they’ll stop using Twitter because of the changes.”
Unless they incorporate valuable new features, massive changes can cause more headaches than benefits. The focus on a new look and feel could help Twitter sidestep more serious issues with its user base, King suggested.
“Frankly, there are larger issues that Twitter needs to focus on — the prevalence of hate speech, identifying and removing bots and fake accounts, reining in belligerent celebrities and politicians,” he suggested.
Doing a graphic redesign instead is “a bit like slapping a new coat of paint on a car with faulty brakes and a bad engine knock,” King quipped.
The new desktop website mimics the smooth timeline viewed on mobile app screens with one key difference. The desktop design has added features that you can access without tapping or scrolling.
The new look also involves a large-font main menu, along with access to notifications, messages, bookmarks and lists. The Trends feature is more prominent as well.
Other design changes provide expanded Direct Messages so you can see conversations and send texts from the same view. The updated site includes dark mode options — Dim and Lights Out. Also, designers added the ability to change font size and color scheme (choose from blue, yellow, pink, purple, orange or green).
“I’m still getting used to it so I’ll focus on the pros. On the plus side, navigating the settings and preferences seems simpler than it used to be. I also like the built-in analytics dashboard,” King said.
A Lot to Take In
Users can expect more personalized live video and local moments with added context, Twitter said. Top Trends will be accessible in any view.
The new design makes it easier to navigate Twitter. With the old layout, users had to click on their Profile icon to access features like Lists, Themes, Settings and other options.
In this new design, the Explore feature is more prominent. It directs users to more live videos and personalized local moments, according to Twitter’s announcement. This is also where the Top Trends feature is located. Personalized Trends is now featured on the right-hand sidebar on the home screen.
The Bookmarks feature moved to the desktop’s main navigation. The new navigation menu includes: Home, Explore, Notifications, Messages, Bookmarks, Lists and Profile. You will also find More, a menu for items like Moments, Twitter’s ad tools, Settings, and other features.
Direct Messages is expanded to include an inbox-like screen for viewing and responding to conversations centrally. Plus, it is easy to switch profiles, use more theses, and do advanced searches.
The recent Twitter overhaul is about appearances, but more was behind the move than purely cosmetic changes, according to Dan Willis, the Millennial Motivator an international public speaker focusing on how community and relationships are the future of marketing in the millennial marketplace.
“The changes to the user interface and new functionality and focus around video and picture content are an attempt to bring Twitter into more conversations as a leader in social media,” he told TechNewsWorld.
Competitors like TikTok and Instagram continue to garner a lot of attention and press due to their committed focus to evolving mediums like video, pictures and audio, and Twitter needed to adapt to get back into sight, Willis said. “This overhaul is the first step in revitalizing the platform for a new generation of content creators on the go.”
Negative Views Just collateral Damage
The negative reactions to the new layout are merely the result of breaking from familiarity, according to Willis. Twitter had gone a long time without change.
“My view is that it needed to happen. The network was visually feeling dated, and [Twitter officials] avoided the problem Snapchat faced with its overhaul by leaving functionality relatively unchanged,” he added.
Willis is a massive Twitter video user with over 4 million impressions a month on his content.
“I have found since the shift the views and reach of video content has spiked considerably,” he said.
Motive Behind Changes
As with all change, avid Twitter users may feel uncomfortable at first. When Facebook launched its News Feed in 2006, it was met with a heated backlash until people got used to it, according to Michelle Kubot, vice president of marketing at Ambrosia Treatment Center.
She is an avid Twitter user with more than 47,000 followers.
“Since Twitter didn’t add or take away any features with the redesign, I don’t expect much negativity,” Kubot told TechNewsWorld.
Sometimes websites make design changes for specific purposes like releasing, promoting or removing features, or to open up more advertising. However, Twitter’s recent changes are all about brand image, she noted.
“Websites have to constantly evolve to stay relevant, including looking and feeling modern. Usually, this is done in relatively small steps, but occasionally you need a full overhaul,” Kubot said.
Twitter did serious user testing before rolling out the major changes. Twitter officials generally knew what kind of impact the changes would have, she added, and rolled it out because results were positive.