One more quarter and we bid good bye to 2012. In the last 9 months, Twitter has been one of the most talked about networks. The 140 character network, which completed six years of its existence, is today more than a mere information and one-to-one conversation network.

In 2011, governments for the first time realized the power of Twitter. Later on, we realized that tweets were censored and Twitter had accepted it. In the beginning of the year, Twitter announced that it will follow government laws first. Later it continued on introduce some existing features for its users on web as well as mobile. Twitter also made sure that it cracked its revenue source before Facebook or any network could do it. Undoubtedly, its been an exciting year for Twitter! Here we bring you all the major design changes that Twitter has witnessed in 2012.

1. Changes to profile pages: Last year before Christmas, Twitter had introduced the new Twitter design. The design was introduced to provide a simplistic and cleaner look. Over the time, the design had witnessed some minor tweaks that have made the UI really cool. Four major features were introduced – Home, Connect, Discover and Me. The network also introduced a new #hashtag button for websites to monitor interesting conversations.

Recently, this design got one more visual tweak because Twitter thinks that the users have more to show. Now you can upload a header photo and it becomes the default landing page for anyone who visits you. Something similar to the below screen grab.

twitter new_web_and_devices design

The new change will allow you to showcase your photo stream in a better way and if you are wondering how to get the new look then click on Settings->Design->Change Header and you should be fine. You can also click here to get the complete design guide of the Twitter header template.

2. Expanded Tweets: Expanded tweet was a move ahead for the 140 characters. Twitter made it clear that it wanted to be a content platform and give exposure to all forms of media. Though some were not happy saying that Twitter is stuffing too many things but expanded tweets have not been bad.

The new feature that Twitter rolled out was an effort in the direction of discovering an easy and new way of content. This also meant that twitteraties get to see preview of the content before they can click on it.

3. Tailored Trends and suggestions for Who To Follow: Twitter also made sure that it worked on the trends that is one of the very popular features. Initially, it provided the most talked about topics from more than 150 locations but Twitter changed it to provide tailored trends. The customization of trends is based on the people you follow and your location.

Additionally, Twitter also introduced a much needed feature that was highlighted as one of the missing links from Twitter – tailored suggestions for who to follow. These suggestions were however not based on interests but on the Twitter activities by the users. However, I think taking the interest route would not only give better results but would keep the security thing at bay.

4. Effective usage of Email Digest: Another feature that was missing from Twitter. However, the purchase of Summify quite clearly indicated that Twitter would be using it for some time. Gradually, Twitter introduced features like new follower notification ‘digests’ and during the same time it also started sending email digests of popular stories within your community.

This was definitely a required feature that gave more info about the followers and the popular stories helped to keep a tab on the important stories.

5. Twitter Branded and hashtag pages: Twitter in the first week of February started rolling out branded pages but seems that the latest design change has removed it. Later on during the 2012 Pocono 400 Nascar race, Twitter introduced new hashtag page for #NASCAR.

#NASCAR

The design change was similar to the branded page of Nascar but the hashtag page was more of curated content of the event. A move that was not only followed by other events but even Facebook started branding events online as it was turning to be a new source of revenue for the networks.

6. Integration with FB, separates with LinkedIn: In 2012, Twitter has focused on its revenue strongly and has been critical about developers using their API. Twitter, which once allowed tweets to be synched with LinkedIn stopped doing it but at the same time strengthened its relation with Facebook. The Facebook-Twitter integration meant rich media experiences related to images, #hashtags, etc. while cross posting a tweet. However, the breakup with LinkedIn was beneficial for the professional network rather than Twitter.

7. Better Search: Twitter’s search was another sore spot but it made sure that it was enhanced. Twitter introduced search autocomplete and ‘People you follow’. The improvements focused on areas like related query suggestions, spelling corrections, and more relevant search results. These enhancements made sure that the platform experience was much better especially for the new users. Additionally, content discovery became quite easy.

8. Mobile Experience: Twitter has made sure that all the design changes that were made on web also reflected on mobile. For instance, the new profile changes along with the web were made live on iPad and iPhone apps.

twitter mobile-web-nokia-c3

Twitter has also focused on emerging markets with new mobile web version. Some time back, it made sure that the redesigned profile change that happened last December was made available by this year in feature phones too. The idea was to cater to more global audiences where smartphones are still not in popular use.

I am sure by the year end, Twitter will have some more additional features to enhance our experience. For instance, at some point of time, Twitter would allow you to archive your tweets, provide analytics, etc. I’m looking forth to some more changes by the end of 2012 but not at the cost of slitting throats of third-party developers community.

Prasant Naidu

Founder and Blogger at Lighthouse Insights.

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