Twitter unveils major site makeover

Microblogging service gets design overhaul to improve user interface and help companies promote brands on profile pages, as battle in social space heats up.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

In its biggest makeover to date, Twitter has revamped its site to make its microblogging service easier to use, widen its reach among users and also entice businesses to showcase their brands on corporate profiles.

Twitter's new look was officially unveiled by chief executive Dick Costolo at the company's future headquarters in San Francisco, Reuters reported Thursday.

"We have to provide the simplest and fastest way for people around the world to connect to everything they care about," Costolo said at the event.

The company is hoping the revamp will also make Twitter-specific lingo and shortcuts such as the # symbol, or hashtag, more easily understood by users, Reuters reported.

"Twitter should be useful by those who know the shortcuts, and also equally useful by those who don't really use the shortcuts," Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey said at the event. He returned to the company in March as executive chairman to oversee product design and development efforts.

A new section, called "Discover", highlights the most popular topics based on a user's location and interests. Other sections include "Home" where users read incoming tweets, while "Connect" displays all tweets mentioning a user.

The site redesign is set to roll out globally over the next few weeks, according to the company's blog post. The changes, however, can be seen immediately on newly-updated mobile versions Twitter for the iPhone and Android platforms, it added.

The new version of Twitter also features a new profile page for companies. Previously, posts or "tweets" from companies would appear in a linear, chronological fashion. The new design will allow brands to customize their corporate profile page and highlight specific content such as video and photos, Reuters said. "For marketers, this is something that they've been asking for of us for a while," Adam Bain, president of global revenue at Twitter, said in the report.

According to Twitter, 21 brands including General Electric and Pepsi have already customized their profile pages with the new features, which will eventually be available to all users.

Twitter's revamp comes after Facebook announced sweeping changes to its design in September. Competition among social networking sites including Twitter, Facebook and Google+ is heating up, as each jostles for user share and advertising dollars.

Twitter, which was launched five years ago, did not offer advertising as a revenue generator until April 2010 when it started "promoted tweets" by putting brands' messages into users' Twitter streams.

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