Twitter redesigns site to ease browsing, media sharingTwitter redesigns site to ease browsing, media sharing

Twitter’s new deal didn’t turn out to be that much of a big deal. After a mercifully brief buildup of guess-what-we’ve-got-in-store hype, theincreasingly-popular info-sharing service summoned the press to its San Francisco headquarters to announce… a site redesign.

new_twitter_design.png

The new Twitter–only available to a small fraction of Twitter users at the moment–replaces the old site’s simple timeline of tweets with a two-pane view, as seen in the screen shot on top.

On the left you’ve got the updates of everybody you follow; links at the top let you switch that view to show only tweets mentioning you, see posts that have been“retweeted,” bring up saved searches and browse through lists of Twitter users. On the right, you first see trending topics and your current follower numbers. Or, by clicking on a tweet in the left pane, you can bring up context for it, such as an earlier tweet that user was answering, other tweets with the same “hashtag,” bios for people mentioned in the tweet and an inline presentation of a photo or video clip linked in the tweet.

This redesign, however, doesn’t end one of the more annoying aspects of Twitter readership: Having to guess what page awaits behind somebody’s shortened Web link.

Note that Twitter’s mobile apps and site remain unchanged for now, and access via text message–still one of the most popular ways to use the service–is the same minimalist experience as ever.

As a company blog post explains, all these changes aim to provide more information than the strict 140-character limit of a tweet might otherwise allow. They make it easier to pick up on and join a new conversation on Twitter (though all the clicking back and forth required by the two-pane design may disorient some users) and, therefore, help people spend more time on the site.

That’s a fairly obvious goal for any Web site. And these are fairly obvious changes, in light of Twitter’s recent history.

The new ability to embed pictures, for example, matches how Twitter’s iPhone and Android applications detect links to such Twitter-friendly photo-sharing services as TwitPic or yfrog and insert thumbnail previews of photos from those third-party sites. Twitter’s new iPad apptakes this one step farther and even features a multiple-pane view of its own.

So why make such a big deal out of it? Well, just look at all the peopletalking about #NewTwitter on Twitter!

When that chatter dies down and you’ve gotten access to the new Twitter site, have a look and tell me what you think. Do you feel less or more lost there?

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