Getting To Know The New Twitter Search

Chris CrumSearch

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Earlier this week, while searching on Twitter, I was presented with a revamped search interface, but only for a minute or two (luckily, it was long enough to get a couple screen grabs). Then it went away.

Even while I was able to access this version of Twitter Search, it wasn't working properly. None of the filters worked. They all just pointed to the old style results for "everything".

I searched Twitter to see if anyone else was talking about this, and a few others had mentioned seeing it. I asked Twitter about it, and was told, "I can confirm that we are experimenting with a new search experience.”

Whether this will roll out to all users remains to be seen, but I have gotten the experience back, and now it works, and appears to be sticking around, at least for the time being. With that, let's take a closer look.

There doesn't appear to be anything that's really changed in terms of functionality. It's pretty much just how search options are presented.

When you search for something, you're presented with filters for Top (default), Live, Accounts, Photos, Videos, and More Options. I'll use the query "SEO" for an example. Here's a look at the top results:

For comparison, here's what the old default experience looks like:

Though there is a separate option for "live," the top section adds results pretty quickly too, though this probably depends on the query.

The live option is basically what used to be "all". It's just the latest results in real time.

The accounts tab replaces what used to be "people" and more closely resembles other pages Twitter has that present you with accounts, such as the "Following" and "Followers" pages. Really, "accounts" is a much better description, as many of them are for brands and other things.

For comparison, here's the old "People" results:

It's worth noting that Twitter Search is smart enough to include Matt Cutts in the top results despite him not having "SEO" anywhere in his bio or Twitter handle.

Here's what the photo results look like with the new interface:

Notice that you're not presented with view options like on the old version. It just gives you the list view. I think I actually prefer the old presentation of this one, which defaulted to grid view, and gave you the option to view it in list view.

The new interface feels more like you're just looking at more tweets (granted they are photo tweets), whereas the old one puts more focus on the actual photos from the tweets. Since you're searching for photos, I feel like the one that emphasizes the photos themselves works better, but I suppose that's just a personal preference.

The video search in the new interface is pretty much just like the old one. There aren't any view choices, which is interesting because the old version let you choose between all and Vine. There's no Vine option on the new one.

Twitter of course recently launched native video, so perhaps they're placing less emphasis on Vine for that reason.

Under "More Options," you get the following additional choices: News, From everyone, From people you know, From everywhere, Near you, Save this search, Embed search, and Advanced search. All of these options were previously available. They were just laid out differently. Personally, I think the new interface is a vast improvement in that regard, as it draws your attention to all of these options, which can really make Twitter's search tool more useful.

Here, I've highlighted where these options are located on the old version:

And that's pretty much it. The Advanced Search remains identical to the old version.

Any of this may change by the time the new interface rolls out, if it even does roll out. Remember, Twitter just said it was experimenting.

Interestingly, while I'm getting the new interface in Chrome, I'm not getting in Safari or Firefox. In Chrome, however, I'm seeing it for multiple accounts.

Someone on Twitter had seen it in Safari, but not Chrome. I should also point out that I've not seen any change at all on the mobile app (Android).

Overall, I think the new interface is an improvement over the existing one, and I hope they go in this direction. There are a few changes I would make, as noted, but in general, it feels like a step toward emphasizing search (which is really one of Twitter's best features) and making its usefulness more obvious.

Images via Twitter

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.