Twitter makes search central to its future with new homepage
SAN FRANCISCO - Twitter has given another pointer to its future after taking the covers off of a new homepage, which puts the focus squarely on search and allows non-users to discover what is being talked about on the service.
The new homepage now looks much more like a traditional search engine with text now above a big search box encouraging visitors to "See what people are saying about..." by entering a search term.
As well as entering a search term, users can also click on a list of popular topics below, which today include iamblessed, Adam Lambert, M&Ms and the Iran Election.
All these changes are designed to help new visitors to Twitter or those who have not quite fathomed what it is about to understand what the micro blogging service does.
The homepage text has been revamped -- "One simple question: What are you doing?" has been replaced by "Sharing and discovering what's happening right now, anywhere in the world".
On Twitter's official blog, founder Biz Stone says part of the new look is about helping people access Twitter in more relevant and useful ways upon first introduction and seeks to answer the question a lot of non Twitter users have: "What is Twitter?"
According to Stone: "Defining a 'tweet' for the uninitiated and explaining how to create an account doesn't resonate with everyone. 'Why would I want to do that?' is a common reaction.
"However, demonstrating the power of Twitter as a discovery engine for what is happening right now through our search and trends often awakens a sense of wonder which inevitably leads to a much more compelling question, 'How do I get involved?'"
Stone said the changes also reflect the evolution of the service that began as a basic social tool based on the concept of status messages, but has since grown and created a mini industry of third party applications such as Tweetdeck and Twitpic.
The homepage builds on Twitter's acquisition last year of Twitter search engine firm Summize. Since that acquisition, Twitter has been working hard to improve its search and move it from the periphery to the centre of its mission.
Stone said that Twitter still had a lot of work to do when it comes to the quality of its search results and trend analysis, but repositioning the product to focus more on discovery was an "important first step in presenting Twitter to a wider audience of folks around the world".
"We're eager to see if encouraging a sense of wonder and discovery leads to a better first impression of Twitter," Stone said.
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