Make no mistake, Twitter was perfectly justified in hyping its redesigned Website as a major announcement. The new version of Twitter.com, which will roll out to all users over the next few weeks, is more important to Twitter than any mobile app or previous Website tweak to date.
I won’t get into the details of every little change to Twitter’s Website — othersites have done a nice job of that. The important takeaway is that Twitter has moved almost every function onto a single screen, so you rarely have to navigate away from a single browser tab to get the full Twitter experience. Twitter’s redesigned Website mainly accomplishes this with a massive sidebar that can show photos, video, maps, other recent tweets and more.
If you’re using a third-party app to access Twitter, you probably couldn’t care less about the news, but keep one thing in mind: Last month, nearly four out of five unique users accessed Twitter via the main Website. What they saw was primitive to a fault — a bland slate of tweets and shortened URLs with little context. Twitter has a disloyalty problem, in which a lot of people who try the service don’t come back. I’m sure the lackluster Website was a contributing factor.
So even if you never use Twitter’s Website, you should care about this redesign. It means that more people who visit Twitter for the first time will have a greater chance of understanding what it’s all about. When they first join and start following users, they’ll get more suggestions on who else to follow, and they’ll get a better sense of features like lists, favorites and retweets. Maybe they won’t just throw up their hands and say “I don’t get it,” like so many of my friends and family have.
Aside from a brief flirtation with TweetDeck, I’ve always used Twitter.com. Because I spend so much time in the Web browser, Twitter’s Website was simply easier to integrate into my everyday routine, despite its faults. I’m thrilled that Twitter has addressed some of the major problems with its Website, and can’t wait for the redesign to roll out to everyone.
Shameless plug: In the meantime, feel free to say hello. I’m @OneJaredNewman.