Breaking Down Twitter’s New Homepage

    August 4, 2009

On Tuesday, we told you about the launch of Twitter’s new homepage. The revamped design sports a sleek look that is pretty easy on the eye. But, once you get past the pleasing aesthetics, you’ll also see that Twitter has added a search capability and popular topics, which in turn could mean an influx of Twitterers.

It should be noted that most Twitterers won’t ever see the new homepage, unless they logout of course. But, the new layout isn’t for the "everyday Twitter user", it’s meant for the non-tweeting crowd, or those that don’t see the use for it. Recently, WebProNews featured an article, "The Average American Still Unfamiliar With Twitter", which discussed this very topic. It seems as though Twitter hopes the new homepage will help herd in some of the non-Twitter users.

Do you think the new homepage will help get new users? Tell us.

Twitter Search – Is Twitter competing with search engines now?

Twitter's New Homepage Search

With Twitter’s inclusion of search, on the homepage, they’ve now made Twitter useful… even for those who refuse to tweet. WebProNews’ Chris Crum wrote an article about this very topic, and here’s his take on what might happen with Twitter search:

"When a new user comes along to discover Twitter for the first (or even second or third) time, they’ll see that search box. They’ll say to themselves, "What is this? I thought Twitter was just some pointless way to tell people what I am having for breakfast. It’s a search engine now?" Then they will start to understand that there is more to gain from Twitter than what they previously thought."

You might be asking, "What is the big advantage to a Twitter search versus, let’s say Google?" The answer is simple. With Twitter, you get real-time results (which is the next big thing in search). Twitter even highlights this aspect on the new homepage with the following header:

Twitter header

But, don’t think for a second that Google doesn’t know they’re late to the party, in regards to real-time search. Google’s own Larry Page has even stated:

"I have always thought we needed to index the web every second to allow real-time search.  At first, my team laughed and did not believe me.  With Twitter, now they know they have to do it.  Not everybody needs sub-second indexing but people are getting pretty excited about real-time."

Will Twitter be able to lure some searchers away from Google? Let us know what you think.

Trending Topics… umm… I mean Popular Topics

Twitter's Popular Topics

By now you’ve probably noticed that Twitter has added "popular topics" to the homepage. But, these aren’t your everyday, profile page, trending topics. With these you can now see what’s popular right now, today and this week.

If you’re still unclear what the popular topics are about, Twitter offers the following description :

"Twitter looks at every incoming tweet, then ranks the popularity of certain words or phrases in real time. Click any of the popular topics below to see what people are saying about them right now."

The new popular topics, coupled with search, seems to be a strategy that Twitter is employing hoping it leads to new users. @Biz had the following to say about this on the Twitter blog:

"…demonstrating the power of Twitter as a discovery engine for what is happening right now through our Search and Trends often awakens a sense of wonder which inevitably leads to a much more compelling question, "How do I get involved?""

What are your thoughts about the new "Popular Topics"? Tell us.

Popular Topics / Search Results Pages

Twitter Popular Topics

Let’s say you want to see why "Apple Claims New" is a popular topic, so you click it. You’re then taken to a re-vamped results page, with an added element. Twitter now displays a description of why the topic is popular.

Twitter header description

This new description will come in very handy when those odd terms creep up into the popular topics. Below, you can read Twitter’s description of this new addition:

"Twitter looks at every incoming tweet, then ranks the popularity of certain words or phrases in real time. Click any of the popular topics below to see what people are saying about them right now. Some topic descriptions are sourced from What The Trend."

Besides the new description, the results pages are pretty much the same… but they do sport the new updated design. I do wish Twitter would’ve incorporated the FriendFeed sort of ajax auto-refreshing thing they do, that could be turned off and on, of course. (It should be noted that the search results pages look identical.)

Do you find the new descriptions helpful, or distracting?
Let us know.

Twitter’s New Search Tips

Twitter's Search Tips

Upon clicking a popular topic, or doing a search, you’ll notice a new feature in the column, a "Search Tip". Sure, these tips aren’t anything to write home about, but they do highlight some of the underused search operators. I’ve included a few examples of them below:

"Use source: immediately before a particular Twitter source (like a desktop or mobile app) to find tweets posted via that client. Example: weather source:tweetie will find tweets containing "weather" and entered via Tweetie."

"Use :) to find tweets with a positive attitude. Example: movie :) will find tweets containing "movie" with a positive attitude".

"Use until: immediately before a specific date to find tweets sent before and until that date. Example: ftw until:2009-07-16 will find tweets containing "ftw" and sent until date "2009-07-16" (year-month-day)."

Do you currently use any Twitter search operators? Tell us.

Twitter’s Sign up Page

Twitter's sign up page

Twitter’s sign up page is probably my biggest complaint with the new design. Why didn’t Twitter update the sign up page with the new look? Isn’t this page the most important to them? It’s the one that brings in the new users.

The sign up page seems very dull and boring when you compare it with the new look. They could’ve at least changed the color scheme to match, but maybe since this page is working well for them, they didn’t want to change it. Personally for me, it feels very disconnected from the new modern look they got going on.

Should Twitter update the design of the sign up page? Tell us.

More Work Ahead

Even though the new Twitter homepage looks great, @Biz is quick to add that they still have a lot of work to do:

"We have a lot of work to do when it comes to the quality of our search results and trend analysis but repositioning the product to focus more on discovery is an important first step in presenting Twitter to a wider audience of folks around the world who are eager to start engaging with new people, ideas, opinions, events, and sources of information.

We’ll likely continue to make changes to the Twitter home page as we respond to feedback and ideas. We’re eager to see if encouraging a sense of wonder and discovery leads to a better first impression of Twitter."

What are some changes you would recommend for the Twitter homepage? Let us know.