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Twitter redesign: more curated, visual and user-friendly

Twitter redesign: more curated, visual and user-friendly

"Twitter is the newswire now."

This was Mathew Ingram's message to the Associated Press, after they controversially chastised their journalists for publishing events on Twitter before they had gone up on the newswire.

Now, as Jeff Sonderman at Poynter points out, Twitter has moved one step closer to functioning as an actual wire, as a major design overhaul is set to launch a new "discover" section, which curates a personalised selection of stories based on your location, current events and who you follow.

To an extent, Twitter does this already. What are the Tweets of people you follow except personalised news? But the change means that these Tweets will be filtered to a greater extent by an algorithm that will deliver news most interesting to you.

"Discover" could be seen as following the pattern of other social media sites, like Facebook, which puts "highlighted stories" at the top of your news feed, or Flipboard's new iPhone app, which includes a "cover stories" section, featuring news most likely to be relevant to your interests.

The new "discover" section is part of a major overhaul of Twitter's design. Other changes include an updated "home" section, where your Twitter stream appears on the right rather than the left. The section will feature photos, videos and conversations directly embedded in Tweets, making the user experience more visual and slightly more akin to Facebook or Google+.

The new design also includes a "connect" tab, highlighting who has followed, mentioned or retweeted you. The design is supposed to ensure that you "never miss a mention", something that was a risk for inexperienced users with the old design, where you have to click through on a tab to see who's talking about you.

The changes are likely to be unpopular with some because they'll undoubtedly cause what Lance Ulanoff of Mashable calls "who moved my furniture?" syndrome.

However, Sonderman argues that they could bring real benefits to news publishers. He writes that the 'discover' section could help drive traffic towards news sites by highlighting stories that users might have missed when they were first published. The "discover" tab will also show "top images" and "top videos" for any popular phrase or hashtag, making it easier for news publishers to promote this kind of content, which is so popular and drives so much traffic on Facebook.

Sonderman also suggests that 'discover' makes Twitter more interesting for people who aren't active Tweeters. The section brings passive twitter-users more interesting content, so it will maximize news organisations audience by bringing more value to people, even if they aren't active members of the conversation.

Finally, two other interesting updates for news publishers are the introduction of embeddable Tweets (a la Storify), which will make it easier to integrate Twitter into regular news stories, and a greater presence for brand pages (perhaps inspired by Google+?)

In a crowded and increasingly competitive social media market, it looks like Twitter is taking inspiration from all its major competitors. It's not the only one borrowing successful ideas; Facebook recently launched a "subscribe" button for websites, which for all intents and purposes works like Twitter's "follow".

In Twitter's case, the changes should create a product that is more curated, visual and user-friendly. And if they pay off, hopefully they won't just benefit Twitter, but news organisations as well.

Sources: GigaOm, Poynter, Editors Weblog (1) (2), Twitter, Mashable, CNET


Links

Author

Hannah Vinter

Date

2011-12-09 13:35

The World Editors Forum is the organization within the World Association of Newspapers devoted to newspaper editors worldwide. The Editors Weblog (www.editorsweblog.org), launched in January 2004, is a WEF initiative designed to facilitate the diffusion of information relevant to newspapers and their editors.


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