Twitter’s Still Trying to Explain Itself

By  |  Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at 6:30 pm

As any Twitter enthusiast knows, the hardest part of turning new people onto the service is explaining why they’d want to use it in the first place.

Five years later, Twitter’s still trying to nail that explanation itself. Yet another home page redesign, reportedly rolling out to some users, takes another stab at making Twitter interesting from the outside. This is the third major redesign in less than two years.

The current home page contains a handful of entities to follow, a running list of top Tweets, a strip of trending topics and a search box. There’s also a video explaining how people use Twitter. In other words, it’s kind of cluttered. The redesign is much simpler, presenting a long strip of important Twitter users, a search box and one direction: “Follow your interests.”

This isn’t the only thing Twitter is doing to help out newbies. On Monday, Twitter expanded the “people” section of its search function to include users by topic, not just names and usernames. That’ll make it easier for new users to figure out who to follow.

I’m into personal anecdotes lately, so here’s another one: Over the weekend, my wife decided that she wanted to take another stab at Twitter (like so many others, she signed up a while ago and quickly lost interest.) I had to constantly provide tips on how to find new people, and what it actually means to do so. For techies, this stuff comes naturally, but for everyone else, it’s still too easy to get lost.

It’s pointless for me to speculate on whether the redesign will do a better job of helping new users, but Twitter’s frequent fiddling is a pretty good indicator that explaining itself is still a major hurdle.


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8 Comments For This Post

  1. Mark Hernandez Says:

    The REALITY of today's Twitter is that only a small percentage of tweets are seen by others. And the 140 character limit, while cute, is so 1980. It just a trillion unseen fragments, like bits of leaves flowing down a raging river. It keeps people on Facebook.

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  3. The_Heraclitus Says:

    The fact is, Twitter isn't a useful tool for the VAST majority of people.

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