Twitter splits screen for redesign

Twitter’s had its first major revamp in four years, splitting the screen into two panes to display more information such as photos and videos.

“On the site, you’ll see the familiar timeline, yet underneath each Tweet is a handful of information, deeper context and even embedded media,” says Twitter’s CEO Evan Williams. “Simply click on an individual tweet and a details pane slides out on the right and reveals this content.”

The new pane gives information on the author, linked content and more.

The company’s signed deals with 16 content providers including YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo and Ustream to display linked videos and photos. Maps will also be displayed if the tweet is a check-in for a service such as Foursquare.

Previous conversations can be shown, thanks to a new icon which appears when one user replies to another. Clicking it displays the full conversation. If a tweet mentions other users, their recent tweets will also be displayed in the detail pane, making it easier to find new people to follow.

Clicking on a hashtag within a tweet will display search results, and linking to a product will cause an image of it to appear, thanks to deals with various ecommerce sites.

“These changes will roll out as a preview over the next several weeks starting with a very small percentage of registered accounts tonight,” says Williams. “During the preview, you’ll be able to switch back and forth so you have time to grow accustomed to the way things work.”

Some users may find they need to change their profile pictures. “The new interface claims a wider chunk of the screen, and that means Twitter profiles that now have elaborate backgrounds with pictures and text on the left side of screen will find that content obscured,” says Forrester analyst Augie Ray.

But, he says, the changes are generally for the good.

“The new is faster, easier and more engaging.  While any change in interface can cause complaints from long-time users – just ask Facebook – I believe the new will meet with strong user acceptance,” he says. 

“As the new design is rolled out, users will have the opportunity to accept it or return to the original design, but I think many will embrace the intuitive new functionality.”

There’s more information here.