Social networking software

Will Twitter's New Look Win Over Reluctant Users?

Twitter has abandoned its famously minimalist homepage in favour of a busier design that promotes celebrity users and selected recent tweets.

"With the new design, we're intentionally featuring more dynamic content on the front page, revealing a sample of who's here, what folks are tweeting about, and the big topics that they're discussing," said the company in a blog introducing the change.

Trending topics now also scroll news-style across the top of the page. Hovering over each one brings down a box giving an explanation of why it has become popular.

The company said it wanted to convey the fact that the service was no longer simply about the exchange of large numbers of 'status updates' but a network for the spread of more serious information.

"People who internalize the value of Twitter understand the power of this simple medium. But it hasn't been easy to make that value transparent or obvious for curious folks coming to Twitter for the first time," said the blog.

This is a another way of saying that twitter wants the world to see it as more than a forum for people to record mindlessly trivial non-information. Behind the service's huge success it has developed a bit of an image problem. Is anything serious ever recorded on Twitter? Does it engage people on a more significant level than just finding out what celebrities with iPhones are doing?

Tweets from ordinary (non celebrity) members are chosen using unspecified algorithms. Interestingly, these appear to be able to sense location. The list viewed by Techworld highlighted UK-specific tweets.

What the new homepage does do is better explain what the service is about to the surprisingly large number of users who remain immune to its charms.

A recent report from Barracuda Networks highlighted another problem for Twitter - engagement. According to this analysis, large number of people joining Twitter susbsequently don't use the service very much. Much of the site's heat and light is generated by a relatively small minority of hyper-social members.

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