July 18, 2019
Twitter’s desktop interface hadn’t been tweaked in seven years and its technology was woefully out of date. The company began working on a redesign of the site in 2017 and started beta-testing it in September 2018. After showing it to more users in January, Twitter finally released it widely this week. The new three-column design is faster, but other changes are subtle. According to Twitter senior director of product design Mike Kruzeniski, much of the design changes focus on “simplification.”
Wired quotes Kruzeniski as adding that, “we are trying to find the right places to be bold again, but it’s a resetting of that foundation.” The redesign comes at the same time that Twitter is doubling down on human moderators to police hate speech and harassment.
The web redesign, adds Wired, is “about sending a message to users: Twitter is listening to what you want — even if it doesn’t always seem like it.” The design team — Ashlie Ford, Marina Zhao, and project design leader Jesar Shah — has “tried to make choices that nudge people towards … the formations of niche communities, the ability to talk to world leaders and celebrities, the ease of finding pockets of folks with shared interests.”
“Our purpose is to serve the public conversation,” said Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, who rejoined the company two years ago. “Once that became clear, it was like, wait a minute. How well are we doing that?”
The redesign makes search and explore tabs more obvious. “People use Twitter a lot on desktop to look for information, and it tends to be around their interests,” explained Shah, who said the project is known internally as Delight. “So we’re trying to make that easier for people, and leverage these new spaces we’ve created on the site and complement their primary browsing experience.”
The now-13-year-old Twitter is so bogged down with “political infighting … disinformation, harassment” and so on that, at the TED Conference, curator Chris Anderson compared the company “to the Titanic heading straight for the iceberg.” A redesign “can’t change all of this,” says Wired, “but Twitter thinks that it can at least help define what Twitter is for and begin grappling with some of those questions about its identity.”