Twitter now has a brand spankin’ new homepage. Of course, if you’re a regular Twitter user, you’re rarely going to see it because you’re already logged in. But for the 5 billion+ people Twitter has yet to convert, it provides the company’s big chance to get them to sign up and stay on their website.
So what’s Twitter’s big ace-in-the-hole? Well, just look at what the company puts in your face when you arrive: trending topics. Not just 8 or 10 topics, but 23 topics that represent the collective discussion of the entire world. Twitter’s no longer about updating your friends, but about being THE place for global events.
Comparing the old homepage to the new homepage sheds an enormous amount of light on Twitter’s ambitions with its microblogging platform. Here’s the old description text:
“Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?
And here’s the new text:
“Share and discover what’s happening right now, anywhere in the world”
You immediately notice the deemphasis on your personal network – the people you live, sleep, and work with – and the focus on realtime discovery and world events. Twitter’s stepped away from being branded as a social network, or being compared to Facebook.
The second big change is search – specifically the trending topics. The company not only makes sure you realize that the Twitterverse is talking about things you care about (whether it’s pitcher Mark Buehrle or Blue M&Ms), but it explains them with a conversation bubble that appears when you hover over the question mark icon.
Even bigger, Twitter provides an explanation of the trending topics. The explanations are pulled from What the Trend, although it looks like the explanations aren’t updated in realtime. So how do they decide which trending topics get homepage explanations? How long does it take for it to appear? Could it be abused?
We’ll get the answers later, but the significance of explaining trends to a potential user is huge. Everything is geared towards a curious onlooker seeing that Twitter is the place to have a conversation about anything that’s anything in the world.
Twitter’s Changing Directions
Actually, the more accurate subtitle is: Twitter is in the process of changing directions, and this new homepage is the biggest step yet towards that transformation. Twitter was first conceived as a place to update your friends and interested parties on your life. It was focused on you.
Now Twitter has taken away that focus, and in its place, Twitter is focusing on the entire world. There’s not a single reference to you in Twitter’s new explanation. We think we understand why, because we hear this reason for not joining Twitter all the time:
“I just don’t have anything to say.”
“I don’t need to update people on my life.”
“It’s for people with followings and something to promote, not for me.”
Emphasizing that Twitter is the world’s platform for realtime information, for being connected to the entire world, is a savvy move on the part of Twitter. People who have something to promote are already on Twitter. Now the company has to convert the people who think Twitter’s just about telling people about what cereal you ate.
Branding Twitter as the one place where you are plugged in to the collective world makes it tougher to ignore. You can say “I don’t feel like updating people on my life,” but it’s far tougher to say “I don’t care about what’s happening in the world.”
Welcome to Twitter, the hotspot of cultural and global relevance. Welcome to Twitter, Version 2.
Reviews: Facebook, Twitter