Why Twitter would want to look like Facebook

Twitter may be changing its look again, but those who fear change shouldn’t worry. If you use Facebook, Google+ or Pinterest, you should feel right at home.

Mashable posted screenshots of the apparent redesign as spotted by the Web site’s assistant features editor, Matt Petronzio. Other Twitter users also started posting shots of their updated profiles, including a student organization at Full Sail University in Orlando, Fla.

Sweeeet, we just got upgraded to #NewTwitter! #SocialMedia yo! pic.twitter.com/toxMcMzkfS

— FSEDM Our Way (@FSEDMOurWay) February 11, 2014

The new layout, which appears to be in testing, ditches the vertical stream that’s been Twitter’s hallmark since its launch. Instead, the page sports a Facebook-like header and a grid of updates, similar to the layout of Google+ or Pinterest.

Why would Twitter ditch its signature stream? The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

But the clues are right there in Twitter’s first earnings report as a public company, which it revealed last week. The company’s user base isn’t growing as quickly, and the users that Twitter does have are spending less time on the site. In response, investors sent the stock down as much as 23 percent after the report.

The new layout addresses both problems. With larger picture sizes and a grid, each update demands a little more attention — even if you can’t take in as much information in one glance.

And by pulling in design cues from other popular social networks, Twitter seems a little more accessible to new users who may feel overwhelmed by the firehose. The company’s also has made several tweaks, such as redesigning Twitter conversations, to flatten the learning curve for new users.

The new prototype redesign shows that Twitter knows it should move fast to address the problems that spooked investors after its first report.

With the IPO honeymoon already over, Twitter doesn’t have a whole lot of time to waste, said James Gellert, chairman and chief executive of the financial analysis firm Rapid Ratings. He said that while Twitter shouldn’t focus on its stock price at the expense of investing in its business, the report did show that they can’t drag their feet on nailing down a sustainable model for growth and revenue.

“Even they recognize it’s not the most intuitive and usable technology,” Gellert said. Evolving Twitter, he added, “is going to take time. But they have to demonstrate that they’re connecting the dots.”

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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