In early February, Twitter started testing a brand new redesign on select users' profile pages. The newly designed profiles were initially only rolled out to a small random group of users, with notable celebrities including Channing Tatum and Michelle Obama being selected. I was fortunate enough to be one of these and have been testing out the newly made over profile (see mine here) for a number of weeks now. It was announced on Twitter's blog on Tuesday that the design will now be rolling out to existing users over the next few weeks, and users who sign up will automatically be given the new profile page.
The most noticeable difference to the profile designs is the distinct similarities to Facebook and Google+, with the larger profile picture situated at the left hand side overlaying the wide cover image. Users are recommended to choose a 1500 x 500 pixel image for their new cover image; this is a big change from the 1252 x 626 pixel image in the old design. Those who have had their page updated will have noticed that their cover image has been stretched and will need to be replaced. Low quality images are also a problem as they appear pixelated or grainy as a larger image when stretched to fit the width of the page.
The timeline of tweets has also had a bit of a makeover. Users can now choose to filter the tweets of the page they are viewing into "Tweets", Tweets with "Photos/Videos" or "Tweets and replies". The main timeline on a profile page will only show tweets the user has made, not their replies or conversations. It's great to have the option to filter out replies, but it's an unnecessary difficulty to have to click through to see them specifically.
Once you're on the "Tweets and replies" page of the new profile, you'll notice that conversations are no longer embedded in the timeline when clicked. Instead you are taken to a new page to see the conversation, meaning that you need to click back to return to the timeline. Again, this is another annoying feature, especially if you had scrolled down the page far enough for it to load more tweets as these will disappear and have to be reloaded.
Clicking the option to filter only tweets with photos/videos presents a user's media in a gallery style layout with two columns and larger pictures than previously. It's far more visually appealing and engaging as you're able to see the pictures more easily and it's not as necessary to click through or scroll as much.
Another new feature which is so far proving popular is the ability to pin a tweet to the top of your page. This is useful for commercial, business or celebrity Twitter accounts who may want to keep a news story, competition or important tweet above the fold. It's also been described as a way to extend your description so your followers can get more of an idea of what your page is all about.
Tweets are no longer all equal in the new profile; those with more interaction will appear larger in the timeline than others. This is more interesting than the generic timeline where everything appears vertically and the same size, and is also likely to help generate more interaction since popular or more controversial tweets are more likely to be noticed.
Smaller and lesser used updated features include the ability to click tabs to see a user's favourited tweets and what lists they have been added to via a drop down "More" menu.
David Bellona, designer of the new Twitter profiles has stated: "Moment by moment, your Twitter profile shows the world who you are. Starting today, it will be even easier (and, we think, more fun) to express yourself through a new and improved web profile."
So what do you think, is the new Twitter profile easier and more fun to use? The new layout with the personal description and profile picture to the side of the timeline is certainly more cohesive; the filters make the profile easier to navigate and read; and the larger pictures make the page as a whole more aesthetically pleasing. But is it too similar to Facebook? Twitter has recently been trying to draw in new users by appealing to a broader audience and keep hold of their existing ones, but this move has been criticised for its drawing away from the original simplicity that the site was famed for. Twitter was designed to give information in bite size pieces, hence the 140 character limit on tweets, but with larger tiles and more imagery, there is more to scroll past, and with more filters it becomes slightly more difficult to use as the information is not presented directly in front of you.