Twitter’s déjà vu redesign

Twitter has launched redesigned account profiles on the web which, whilst an aesthetic improvement, bear more than a passing resemblance to another social network’s profile pages.

So what exactly is new and what’s with the change?

What’s new

Twitter unveils a new look for account profiles
  • Your profile image is bigger than before (400x400px)Header images are also much bigger (spanning the width of your profile at 1500x500px).
  • Your Tweets with the most engagement will now be larger on your timeline in order to highlight them.
  • You can ‘pin’ a tweet of your choice to stay the top of your timeline (a feature previously seen on some Verified accounts).
  • Your photos/videos/favourites are now much more prominent, making them easier for visitors to see.
  • By default, replies will not be shown, you’ll have to select tweets & replies to see conversations (previously seen on Verified accounts).

So there you have it, here’s Twitter’s own explanation about the redesign. Twitter will ensure all users make the switch at some point but if you haven’t yet been blessed with the makeover you can upgrade yourself here.

Why the new look

This is an interesting one. Two of the most obvious points for me were –

  • Why make it a desktop-only feature when the majority of users are on mobile? (A Twitter employee recently told me 76% of active users are on mobile)
  • Why make it so similar to a rival that has been criticised in recent times for becoming too Twitter-esque?

The desktop-only part might just be a first-mover symptom, with a few ‘leaks’ suggesting that a similar profile style will soon be rolled out on mobile too. This would make sense, I can’t see Twitter trying to diversify it’s core features across platforms. One look and feel no matter which device you’re using would make a lot more sense.

What’s more, in launching on desktop first it gives the boldest indication (on a bigger screen) of the vision Twitter has. That is, making it less about 140 basic text characters and more about a rich multimedia experience with maximum prominence given to pictures and video.

This is all part of the why – despite all the fanfare and a successful IPO, Twitter needs to grow now more than ever to secure its future. There has been much debate around the number of ‘inactive’ accounts, the difficulties in bringing new users on board and the simple fact that it still lags far behind Facebook on sheer user numbers, Twitter’s 240m vs Facebook’s 1.2bn active monthly users.
What’s more, they are increasingly competing in the same space, namely wanting to be the second screen for TV and a primary source for News (with both chasing the same ad revenue).

As this competition has intensified we’ve seen Facebook take ‘inspiration‘ from a few of the more successful items in the Twitter playbook – hashtags, Verified accounts, trends etc.

Now Twitter is doing the same, and it makes sense. If you want to bring new users on board then you need to make it as simple as possible to join and use. A maze of confusing @ symbols and #related in jokes make it a steep learning curve for some. Not to mention that so many people are already on Facebook, and know how it works. Twitter needs to encourage some of those users to come across and join the Tweet side.

Love them or loathe them, the new Twitter profiles are a lot cleaner and easier on the eye. The more rich content you can see, the better it is for an incoming user.

And they do say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

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