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For a long time Twitter has made its name as a predominantly text based social media site. 140 characters at a time spread the site’s name across the internet, turning it into the giant it is today. However, they seem to have re-thought their strategy in terms of imagery, because in a recent overhaul of its apps and website, they’ve given greater prominence to photographs.
It’s been a long time coming, really. Twitter has always been criticised for being a microblogging platform that relies too heavily upon text, potentially making it unappealing for the eyes. A criticism which has never made much sense, when you consider the fact users have always been allowed to use images for their wallpaper design, been able to tweet pictures, and to upload a profile photograph that helps distinguish one Twitter profile from another. They’ve added more features though, which in theory will make the site both visually more appealing, and maintain its relevance in the social media circuit.
The changes, which include a large customisable banner for the top of their timeline, reminiscent of the recent changes made to Facebook, were revealed by Twitter’s chief executive Dick Costolo on American breakfast television. As another example of these changes, Twitter has moved their member’s photo streams, which have been a fairly recent addition. Now if you want to view the photographs, clicking over it will reveal them higher up. The positioning has been transferred onto the left hand side before it expands too.
It’s not the first group of changes to be made to the social media site. For anyone who hasn’t been on Twitter in the last year; if a user Tweets a picture, you don’t have to necessarily click on the link in order to view it in a separate browser page any more. Now there is a View Photo button at the bottom of the Tweet, that produces the expanded photo below. And when you’re finished, click on Hide Photo, and it pops back up like it never existed. Not groundbreaking programming by any means, but important progress for Twitter.
Speaking about the most recent changes, Twitter had this to say:
“Upload an all-new header photo on mobile apps for iPad, iPhone and Android or twitter.com, and the same image will appear whenever anyone views your profile on the web or these apps.”
Pretty self-explanatory, but at least they clarified the use. They said the idea was to make it easier for Twitter users to make friends with fellow users, based on what they learn about them through their pictures. They do say ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’.
Twitter’s move towards further visuals has been a part of their long-term plan for a while now, evidential from the recent maintenance they’ve performed on the site. It’s all in the hopes Twitter can help along its advertising business. Not only have they gone through a redesign process for the Android and iPhone apps, they’ve also rebuilt their iPad app from scratch, to make it “fast, beautiful and easy to use”. Access to tweeted material; videos and images etc has been made direct.
All of Twitter’s new changes are to be introduced slowly, so as not to cause too much confusion in the Twitter community. To be honest though, you’ll likely barely even notice them. Twitter are after all, a little subtler with their maintenance than Facebook. It’s good to remain informed though, and I have no doubt there’ll be new announcements for more changes soon. Whether we like them or not will be another story.