Since the new Twitter was launched about a week ago, I’ve been clamouring for it. The new look is a very cool change from the Twitter homepage of 4 years, since the service launched. In that time, Twitter has changed quite a lot in its purpose and in how it’s members use it, and the homepage hasn’t really adjusted in the best way to accommodate this, until now.
While this new version of the site doesn’t aim to make dedicated apps like Tweetdeck or Seesmic obsolete, it does bring a variety of useful features to everyone. These include in-line media viewing via co-operation with partner sites like twitpic, youtube and flickr, as well as easier tweeting from anywhere on the page, messaging becoming a more featured function, and of course the new two panel design and wider page.
You can open the side panel by clicking anywhere in a tweet except a link in it, or by a dedicated button to the right side. Alongside the tweet itself, it is able to display photos, videos, maps (if you geotag the post) and more. If you have no media associated with the tweet, it will automatically display things such as people or accounts mentioned, replies to the tweet, people who re-tweeted it or recent tweets by that user.
As well as this, you can also click someone’s name to open a mini-profile in the side panel which is perhaps not the most useful feature, and a bit confusing, but I may like it more as I adjust to the updated site. This panel can sometimes cause some problems with scrolling because if you reach the bottom it will scroll the whole page down. This just takes a bit of time to get used to. Overall I really like it though.
Also new to the design is the main functions being moved to the top of the page. @mentions, retweets, saved searches and lists are all just above the timeline now which is a great improvement. The section that most benefited from the update however is the trending topics list, which used to be located at the bottom of the sidebar, far out of view for a lot of users who didn’t think to scroll all the way down and may have missed it. It’s now located just under your most recent favourited tweet in the sidebar where it’s practically impossible to miss, even with a small screen resolution.
I probably was a bit too hyped up about getting the update, so it was very tough for it to live up to my expectations but it still did. My big worry was that they would mess the whole thing up by over-complicating the site and moving away from what the original premise was. I needn’t have worried as I think they’ve done a great job of adding a more useful and modern design while hiding away a lot of the new features. A casual user can go to the new twitter and never have to deal with in-line media and profiles, and just enjoy the same experience as before, but with a nice, clean new look.
I hope future updates are also in this vein because it’s working well. Perhaps Digg should be taking notes on how to update a huge site without alienating its users, because the twitter team have done it better than probably anyone has, maybe even bettering facebook. Check it out when you get access, and if you’ve been unlucky so far, it will be released to everyone in the next week or so I believe.