Twitter fixes its 'bad' homepage: The critics weigh in

What's not to love about Twitter's new look? Some critics like it, others - not so much.

Twitter's update to its homepage, that stresses community and multimedia content, is a welcome change to the staid site. Of course, when you impose order and elegance to Twitter's current lackluster homepage, you're going to get more kudos than questions. Still, you'll be hard pressed to find a dissonant voice in the chorus of opinion about the redesign of world's favorite micro-blogging site.

Is the redesign really that significant? Social media expert Mark Evans says: "My take is Twitter really had no choice but to put a fresh coat of paint on Twitter.com given that, frankly, it reeks of bad usability, particularly compared with the growing number of alternatives that Twitter users are embracing.

"From what I can tell without having actually seen the new Twitter in action," he continues, "it looks like a step forward--perhaps not a major step forward but one nonetheless."

Evans' points out that Twitter, if it wants to grow its membership, had little choice but to take its site to the spa for a makeover. The critique underscores criticism that has less to do with the site's new look - rather the sites apparent shift in mission.

"Twitter's new Web site has lots of cool features and gizmos," Peter Kafka writes at All Things Digital. "But they're all supposed to do one thing in particular: They're meant to encourage you to spend more time on Twitter.com, where the company can show you some ads."

That's just another way of saying that Twitter wants to follow in the footsteps of Facebook and become a media company, Kafka argues. "It gives you cool stuff to look at, you pay attention to what it shows you, and it rents out some of your attention to advertisers," he explains.

"[T]hat's the real parallel with Facebook here," he adds. "Not that both have inline video in the timeline or other design similarities, but that both companies started out trying to avoid the advertising business, and that both of them have ended up embracing them."

While Kafka doesn't see anything wrong with Twitter going for the advertising gold, users of the service may find the new Twitter - despite its visual allure - less alluring because of it.

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John P. Mello Jr.

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