There is little doubt about it: The new look of Twitter – from its horizontal cover image to its heavily photo centric timeline – looks a heck of a lot like Facebook. Why is Twitter doing this?
It probably has something to do with the face that Facebook is the product that most mainstream computer users use. And Twitter definitely wants to get more traction with the sort of people that use Facebook – regular, mainstream, non-tech savvy folks of all age.
Twitter turning into a Facebook lookalike is not that surprising; it is part of a big trend in social networking websites. From Linkedin (getting more popular than ever) to Facebook to Twitter and so on, these sites are starting to look more and more like each other.
Another reason for Twitter’s different look and feel is the fourth quarter earnings report from the end of 2013. Twitter noted that while its user base is getting larger, user engagement is dropping. This is an ominous sign that people are checking out Twitter’s platform, and then not staying with it. Part of the reason why that Twitter’s old look and feel is is very different from most other social networks. Some users may be intimidated with Twitter’s old open design.
The redesigned Twitter looks much like other social networks, and that is what people are comfortable with. The new look and feel could cause Twitter to keep more users for a longer time.
The new look also could be a good first step to fix what some people call Twitter’s fire hose problem. That is, unless you sit there and refresh the page all day, you are always going to miss something on Twitter. But there is no simple way to see what you missed a few hours ago. The constant barrage of tweets can overwhelm even the savviest users. And it can drive away Twitter newcomers.
With the new Twitter design, the most popular tweets will be larger on the user’s profile page. That means new users will get a hint about which tweets are the most popular.
Twitter’s push to the mainstream social media user was made clearer by the fact that Twitter broke the news of the new look and feel on the Today Show this month.
We will keep an eye on the new Twitter look and feel, and see how it stacks up in the coming months against Facebook, which, by the way, has been making some big changes itself.