The “face” of a website is its homepage, and for microblogging service Twitter—still trying to lure in as many new users as possible—it is doubly important. As such Twitter has redesigned its homepage yet again. Like the last major overhaul of Twitter’s interface last year, this change is being implemented slowly as opposed to wholesale.
There are the superficial changes, such as the repositioning of the search bar and most popular accounts now featuring in a bar of avatars, the image Twitter accounts upload to represent themselves, near the bottom of the page. However, the most evident change is in the new, metallic-blue hue replacing white as the primary colour on the site.
Beyond those changes though, the redesign is also representative of Twitter’s continued move from being an elite network to the mainstream.
In its five-year existence, Twitter has redesigned its homepage a number of times. Each reincarnation has attempted to answer, in a simple manner, the question all possible users may have: “Why should I use Twitter?” The last homepage design addition was a video of various celebrity tweeters explaining why they use Twitter and what they gain from it; clearly an attempt to speak to potential users.
This mindset is still apparent in this latest redesign. Front and centre is the new, large and bold wording, “Follow your interests: instant updates from your friends, industry, experts, favourite celebrities, and what’s happening around the world”, from the previous “Discover what’s happening right now, around the world”.
Furthermore with the first steps to signing up being displayed when one navigates to twitter.com it is even more clear that the signing-up of new users is the main aim.
However, following the redesign of its homepage, Twitter experienced serious technical problems. Some users logging on at the time were greeted with a message saying, “We’ve temporarily disabled #NewTwitter. Our engineers are working on re-enabling it and we’ll update you shortly”. People who got this message were directed to the pre-September 2010 version of the website. Other users were unable to access the website at all and saw a page simply saying “something is technically wrong”, promising to have things “back to normal soon”.
Added to that, Trending Topics—the place where current popular Twitter topics and one of Twitter’s revenue streams, Promoted Trends, reside—was down for much of Wednesday.
Technical issues are nothing new to Twitter or its users. The Fail Whale (an image appearing every time Twitter crashes) and the term “Fail Whale” itself have already taken a not-so-proud place in popular culture. Issues such as these are to be expected from any start-up… but for a company that has now placed monetisation as its primary aim, issues such as these could be major deterrents to any future advertisers.
Whether this latest round of technical problems was connected to the new data-centre Twitter moved into last month or with the launch of the new homepage was not clear. When asked, according to a Reuters report, all a Twitter spokeswoman would say was that there were no further details the company would give beyond the status on its technical web page… not exactly the best reaction one would expect from a company like Twitter.