If you’re even an occasional user of Twitter, you’ll have likely noticed that the platform’s interface looks quite a bit different than it used to.
Twitter started a major overhaul on its site this year, rolling out a new design and layout over the past few months. In addition to the new Twitter layout, there are also a large number of major new features they’ve been pushing out at a rapid-fire pace, all of which have shifted overall best practices on the platform.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at the new Twitter designs, layouts, and features that have rolled out over the past few months and what it means for your marketing campaigns.
There’s a lot to cover here, so let’s go ahead and dive right in.
Twitter’s New Layout Design
Twitter’s new design is similar to its mobile app. That’s because the team at Twitter opted to have both the mobile app and the website on the same codebase, meaning the desktop site had to be rewritten. Its aim is to make the site simpler, more user-friendly, and better tailored to the user.
One of the most noticeable changes to the homepage is the larger font and more simplistic layout. Twitter’s designers left a generous amount of breathing room, helping to make the homepage feel clean and simple. In addition, users can choose between Twitter’s classic white interface and two dark mode options: Dim and Lights Out. There’s also an array of highlight colors to choose from.
According to Twitter’s team, the company wanted to offer its full range of features to users on both mobile and desktop platforms. They also wanted to make it easier and more efficient for their internal team to make updates across both the mobile and desktop sites.
The new Twitter permanently replaced the original interface this summer. It rolled out to users gradually. Many users complained about the changes, and until all users had the new layout, some who preferred the old Twitter found ways to bypass its new design. They managed this by using Chrome extensions and other software to revert to the old layout.
Now that the new Twitter is here to stay, however, the new interface can no longer be bypassed.
Twitter’s New Home Page
The most drastic and noticeable changes to Twitter’s interface are on its desktop home page. Twitter removed the profile block from the upper left corner of the home page, which previously displayed the user’s profile picture, bio block, and follower count. Now, users must click on the link to their profile to view that information.
Twitter moved its horizontal navigation menu from the top of the screen over to the left-hand panel. The new vertical menu includes links to the Home page, the new Explore page, Notifications, Messages, Bookmarks, Lists, and the user’s Profile. Below that, the More link takes users to their Topics, Moments, Twitter Ads, Analytics, Settings, Help, and Display. In addition, Twitter removed the Trending section from the left-hand side of the screen.
On the far right side of the screen, there is now a What’s Happening panel, followed by Who to Follow. In the old layout, Who to Follow was featured at the top right.
The New Explore Tab & How to Use It
One of the biggest additions to Twitter’s new site layout is the Explore tab. Mobile users could already access it via the magnifying glass icon on the app. Based on a user’s history, the Twitter algorithm curates topics they might be interested in on the Explore page.
Explore brings additional curated live video to users. Additionally, it provides local and hyper-local moments that are tailored to the user, based on their geographical location. Users can also get more context for the conversations they’re a part of.
For users who want to dive deeper into trending topics, Explore is the place to be. While the site curates a For You page, there are also trending categories, including Trending, News, Sports, Entertainment, and more. Each category highlights its Top Trends for users so they don’t miss a beat. It’s also possible to view a chronological view of tweets about a certain Topic.
Trending topics that span more than one subject or search term will contain a “Trending with” footer. When you click the terms included, you can navigate directly to the search page for each of those terms. If you aren’t interested in a Topic, you can dismiss it and Twitter won’t continue to recommend it.
Changes to Tweets
In addition to a bunch of new design layouts and features, Tweets and conversations themselves have changed a little, too, in three key ways.
Updates to Composer and Drafts
Got a great Tweet drafted, but don’t want to send it yet? You can now save it to Drafts, or schedule it to Tweet later. Twitter’s interface now includes a Tweet scheduler. Tweets and Direct Messages will also now retain your incomplete Tweets-in-progress, but be sure to return to your composer–navigating away from Twitter will make the words disappear.
The Tweet composer also now includes a preview when users insert a link.
One of the biggest recent changes to tweets involves the Retweet with Comments option being renamed to Quote Tweets. They’re located between Likes and Retweets on users’ Tweet details.
Through at least early November 2020, the Quote Tweet composer is being emphasized for U.S. users. Users are encouraged to comment on their Retweets, but may still Retweet without adding their own quote.
Updates to Conversations
Twitter is working on rolling out updates to conversations within Tweet threads. Some users already have this capability, while others don’t just yet. As the changes roll out, some users will begin seeing Tweet replies indented to better clarify who replies are directed toward.
Additionally, some users now have the ability to enable or disable Retweets, replies from people they follow, replies from everyone, or replies from only the people who are @ mentioned in the conversation. Soon, this feature will be rolled out to all users.
Conversations around a piece of media, like an image or a video, may now be viewed and engaged within a collapsible sidebar on desktop Twitter. Users can toggle this sidebar on or off.
Brand Likes & Hashtags
Brands may purchase customized animated icons for either the like button or Tweets that contain a branded hashtag. We’ve seen this trend recently from the popular Star Wars series The Mandalorian.
Branded series hashtags display character icons within Tweets. When Season 2 was released, the Like button briefly turned into The Child when clicked, before reverting back to the standard heart.
Changes to Direct Messages
Twitter’s Direct Messages have also received a facelift. Users can now view their conversations and send messages from the same window. Users no longer need to toggle between different screens in order to send messages to their contacts. Certain buttons, such as the buttons to upload media, hide themselves automatically on mobile screens so users have more room to write their messages.
Additionally, one-on-one conversations feature a header that contains the user’s profile information. If a group chat does not have a title, users participating will be listed instead. Users may now block and report problematic profiles within the chat, rather than navigating to their individual profiles to do so.
Over the summer, Twitter also implemented a DM Drawer, a collapsible message container that sits on the bottom right of the desktop view screen. It animates when a user opens and closes it, which is particularly useful when brands are trying to keep up with user messages.
In order to best keep up with private messages from users across platforms, we do recommend using third-party social management software like Hootsuite or Agorapulse, which will consolidate your messages in one place.
Toggle Easily Between Accounts
Users with more than one Twitter account no longer have to log out and log back in to switch from one to another. Now, Twitter allows users to stay signed in to multiple accounts at once. You can access and toggle between accounts from the side Navigation menu by clicking on your profile picture’s icon and either creating a new account or adding an existing one.
Refreshed Settings Menu
The Settings menu has undergone its own overhaul. Twitter has simplified and consolidated Settings, making it easier than ever to find your safety and privacy settings. Want to review and remove access from third-party apps? Easy. You can also check who you blocked in just a few seconds.
They’ve also listened to user feedback and rearranged the settings to meet the users’ expected order of tools. Finally, Twitter added representative icons to each section to help users visually distinguish which sections they’re working within.
Twitter has given a boost to its accessibility for tab components on the desktop site. Users may navigate between tabs using both right and left directional arrow keys whenever they’re focusing on a tab. If they want to pick a new tab to view, they can hit enter. When users navigate between tabs, they can move from one selected tab to another, then browse its contents.
You can also adjust vision and motion-related concerns about accessibility through the settings tab.
You can learn more about accessibility on Twitter here.
Best Practices For the New Twitter Layout
Looking to reach more users, connect with more followers, and drive more engagement and visibility? Check these current and up-to-date Twitter best practices for best results:
- Create Tweets with correctly-sized images. You need your images to be the right size to avoid awkward cropping, so this is worth getting right. See more about Twitter image sizes here.
- Use video and go live. Video performs incredibly well on Twitter, and live video through Periscope is given priority and top visibility in the algorithms. Consider using these features to make announcements or share exciting news or information with your followers.
- Keep it as short as possible. Just because we have 240 characters doesn’t mean we should be using all of them. Shorter Tweets will typically perform best, so remember that brevity is your best friend.
- Use no more than two hashtags. Twitter recommends using no more than two hashtags for most Tweets. This maximizes engagement and reach without eating up too much unnecessary character counts.
- Consider capitalizing each word in the hashtag. Most users are able to read #thesunwillset without difficulty as-is, but screen readers (which are used to help those with low visibility) can only really read hashtags well is you capitalize each word within it, like “#TheSunWillSet.” It’s a quick change, it looks better, and it increases visibility for everyone.
- Respond & react to engagement. Respond to people who interact with your content. Retweet content that other users are sharing, especially if it’s related to your brand or industry. You don’t exist in a vacuum on Twitter, so interact with others and they’ll want to interact with you, too.
The new Twitter layout may not have been overwhelmingly popular with users, but interface updates never are. (I still remember the glorious 2010 Facebook interface update that had people reeling for weeks.) The interface is here to stay, however, and it offers new ways for users to find and interact with content that’s most important to them.
What do you think? How do you feel about the new Twitter layout? What are your favorite new features? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!