Twitter is rolling out a wholesale redesign of its website, aiming to make the microblogging service easier to use and providing more content tailored to the short-message format.
Over the next few weeks, users will begin to see their Twitter profiles split into two panes as the company phases in the redesign. The traditional Twitter timeline will reside on the left, with a new tabbed menu at the top of the screen where users can check @mentions, retweets, lists and searches.
On the right side, Twitter is placing a details pane that expands to display information and content that traditionally have required users to click away from their profiles to another page on Twitter, or to another website altogether.
“Twitter has always been about getting a lot in a little,” Twitter CEO Evan Williams said in a blog post. “The constraint of 140 characters drives conciseness and lets you quickly discover and share what’s happening. Yet, we’ve learned something since starting Twitter — life doesn’t always fit into 140 characters or less.”
Taken together, the changes are intended to simplify the ways that users track and engage in conversations on the site, while significantly expanding the content that members can view on Twitter. In that sense, the redesign brings some of the functionality that has given rise to a host of third-party applications onto Twitter.com, a move that could drive user engagement on the site and, in the process, boost revenues from Twitter’s early experiments with advertising.
One of the most dramatic changes will see embedded content, such as photos and videos, displayed in the details pane. Twitter has forged partnerships with 16 digital-media providers, including YouTube, Flickr and Ustream, to tailor their content for the details pane, eliminating the need to navigate away to another site.
Similarly, clicking on a tweet in the timeline will bring up information about the author or message in the details pane. The display pane might, for instance, show other tweets by the author or other users on the same topic.
If a tweet is geo-tagged, the display pane might show a map of the user’s location, or information about a business or local place of interest.
The company is also rolling out a feature dubbed mini profiles, which display the basic statistics about Twitter users, such as the number of followers and messages sent, without navigating away to their profiles.
Twitter said it will begin transitioning users to the new format this week, beginning with a very small portion of its members. The transition is slated to run over the next few weeks, during which time users will have the ability to switch between the old and new versions of the site as they get acclimated to the changes.
Among the Twitter faithful, the redesign is a source of intense interest, with “#newtwitter” sitting second atop the trending topics list on the site on Wednesday morning.
Kenneth Corbin is an associate editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.