Twitter's new profiles look a lot like Facebook and that's a good thing
Twitter today announced that its updated profile design will be released to all of its users over the coming weeks. The new profiles place a stronger emphasis on photos and old-but-good tweets,
The updated design is the latest in Twitter's efforts to improve the photo-viewing experience on its service. The company previously announced that users could tag others in photos and upload up to four images with each tweet. The new profile pages will make it easier to find those photos, allowing users to filter tweets based on whether or not they contain images.
By placing a greater emphasis on photos, Twitter can keep its existing users engaged while also attracting new users -- many of whom might be more comfortable using the service if it looks like a slightly-modified version of Facebook. In effect, Twitter has killed two birds with one stone (no morbidity intended).
Making it easier to explore past tweets is also a boon for Twitter's existing users. Looking through someone's tweet history can be an overwhelming experience so the company has taken some steps to make it more manageable, such as removing tweets made in response to other users from your timeline unless you follow both users. Still, it's a lot of information to process all at once.
The updated design looks to mitigate that problem. Users can now pin their favorite tweets to the top of their profiles "so it’s easy for your followers to see what you’re all about," as Twitter puts it. The new profiles will make tweets with more Favorites and Retweets seem bigger than their less-liked counterparts. The result is a new profile that allows users to become more acquainted with each other than they might have when everything was presented in a single stream of tweets.
Taken together, these recent announcements showcase a Twitter willing to move beyond its simple, what-you-see-is-what-you-get roots in order to create a more approachable service. It just so happens that the new design also shows that Facebook's decisions with its users' profile pages were right -- people want to view media-heavy profiles that show someone's best stories instead of barren timelines that are less like a profile and more like a stream of consciousness.
Reactions from around the Web
The Verge notes the new profile's obvious similarity to Facebook:
Visuals have been growing increasingly important for Twitter and the new design pushes them even further to the fore, with larger background images and more prominent profile pictures. There's an unmissable similarity to Facebook's profile pages, with the user's photos and friends both being tucked into a tile layout on the lower left.The Next Web reports that new users will have the new profiles by default:
The new profiles have already been tested among a small group of users. You’ll be getting yours over the coming weeks, however if you’re completely new to Twitter – as in, you sign-up today, you’ll kick off with the new profile from the get go.
If you are joining Twitter for the first time today, or creating a new account, you’ll be guided through the fresh layout. Pando weighs in
I wrote about Twitter's newfound willingness to resemble Facebook in its attempt to attract new users after the updated photo features were first announced in March:
There has always been some cross-pollination of features between Facebook and Twitter. While Twitter was busy making its service more approachable to consumers, Facebook was busy adding hashtags and other features to expand the reach of its users’ status updates. Both services have sought to break down the information silos between mobile applications. Both have given their users the ability to share the songs they’re listening to or news they’re reading. The services are more alike than either company is willing to admit.
But the release of this feature after months of complaints from both investors and journalists that signing up for Twitter — or convincing friends that the service is worthwhile — is an ordeal probably isn’t a coincidence. Becoming more like Facebook might introduce more friction into a service previously known for its bare-bones approach to communication, but it will also make Twitter more familiar to the many people who already know Facebook.