Twitter Hatches The New Twitter.com — A New Two-Pane Experience (Live)

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I’m here live at the event Twitter is holding at their headquarters in San Francisco to show off — well, something. A part of it is inline pictures and videos in the main Twitter stream, but it’s anyone’s guess what else they have up their sleeves. One hint may be this egg that on screen right now.

The agenda states there will be an intro by co-founder Biz Stone, an announcement by CEO Evan Williams, then a Q&A session with Williams, head of product Jason Goldman, and Kevin Cheng who is on the product team.

Update: Behold: The New Twitter.com! (Screenshots)

Update 2: The Best Subtle Things About New Twitter

I’ll include my live notes below if you wish to follow along (paraphrased):

  • We’re sitting down now, there is still just an unhatched egg on screen. They’re playing Matthew Sweet. The event should start in a few minutes.
  • Twitter head of communications Sean Garrett is now on stage to say hello.
  • Here’s Biz Stone
  • “I know what’s behind that egg”
  • Thanks for coming on such short notice. Ron Conway called this morning asking if he should change his flight. Then he put will.i.am on the phone. Anyway, it’s impressive to see everyone here.
  • We’re gonna talk about what’s inside the egg. Ev will do most of that.
  • Ev will share some of the thinking and building we’ve been doing since last April when we had Chirp. We’ve been working quite a bit since then.

  • We think there are going to be a bunch of questions so we’ll stick around.
  • Here’s Evan Williams
  • We’re gonna show you some new stuff. We’ve never done this before. But what we’re gonna show you we thought deserved more than a blog post. We like realtime information so this should work.
  • Twitter is getting better — and bigger. It was exactly 5 months ago that we had Chirp. I said there that Twitter is too hard. It needs to be faster and easier. One area is mobile. Twitter started on mobile. 140 characters is for SMS.
  • Since the beginning of the year Twitter users on mobile are up 250%. Mobile is critical for the future.
  • 16% of new users are starting on mobile. There are on average 370,000 new sign ups a day overall.
  • Twitter is a real-time information network.
  • Twitter levels the playing field between creators and consumers of content.
  • Every individual voice adds value — we had to change from ‘what are you doing?’ to ‘what’s happening?’
  • What we try to help people understand when they start using Twitter is that you don’t have to tweet.
  • It’s the same as the idea that you don’t have to make a webpage to use the web. There is something on Twitter for everyone.
  • Twitter is having technical difficulties with their slides.
  • Williams is going off on a tangent about giving everyone the ability to publish on the web. But now what’s relevant is figuring out what’s going on in this sea of information.
  • 90% of the information on Twitter is public.
  • It’s also hard to figure out who to follow. The Suggestions feature has gone really well. We’re just getting started with that.
  • We’re now seeing 90 million tweets a day – or above on average.
  • About 25% of tweets contain links.
  • We’ve been focusing a lot on infrastructure and reliability. Our growth isn’t easy to handle, but we’ve been working on it.
  • Now (rather than a year ago) we can add new features.
  • Today we’re going to talk about twitter.com — this often gets missed among the tech set — it’s the biggest Twitter client.
  • More people log on to Twitter.com on a monthly basis than almost all the other Twitter clients combined.
  • Twitter just showed off a video of the new version. It looks quite a bit like the awesome Twitter iPad app to be honest.
  • We’ve done deals with 16 partners for both pictures and videos — many of the Twitter partners you love, plus the big guys like YouTube, Vimeo, and UStream.
  • There are pop-up overlays. You can now see replies on the right-hand pane.
  • The profile page is now supposed to be more about identity. The picture is bigger, the bio is more prominent.
  • Everything is more responsive — it has been entirely rebuilt.
  • But it’s still off of our API (though the newest one)
  • Whenever possible we remore friction. Keyboard shortcuts, no ‘more’ buttons.
  • Launching today for a subset of users (including everyone in the room in about a half hour)
  • It’s also launching worldwide. But it will be an incremental roll out before everyone gets it.
  • We’ve been using this product for a few months internally.
  • Speed – responsiveness – discovery. Getting a lot more out of Twitter in less time.
  • This is one of the best web apps i’ve ever seen.
  • This is the biggest launch we’ve ever done.

Q&A Time with Goldman, Cheng, and Williams

Q: How are these deals working?

JG: YouTube, Vimeo, UStream, TwitPic, Flickr, other assorted partners. We have an agreement to display their content on our site. It’s still hosted with them.

Q: How long before it goes live before everyone?

KC: For 160 million users, even for small features we take it carefully. Over the course of a few weeks but we’re not on a firm timeframe.

Q: Are you changing how lists work at all.

JG: The list experience is a lot easier to navigation — along with retweets and mentions. But fundamentally not changed.

Q: What about for developers?

JG: One of the key points is that this is a new architecture for our client built using our APIs. We think this is the best way to do it.

Q: Did you test it externally as well?

KC: We’ve always approached this for the best user experience. Starting as early as May or June we’ve had external user tests for people coming in to see the product.

Q: Looks like Twitter for iPad. Did the mobile apps have influence on this?

EW: They were in parallel development, but this was started first. The reason they’re similar looking is because it’s basically the same idea. It’s about the same idea of consumption. There is shared thinking there.

Q: How will this help new users — or people that aren’t tweeters?

EW: This reveals more information that’s under the iceberg of Twitter, if you will. More is revealed to you.

Q: How does this help with monetization?

EW: We’re really excited for the potential, but there’s nothing specific with this design. But this make Twitter and tweets better. We have yet to show this to advertisers, but we think they’ll be excited about this.

Q: Multiple account support?

JG: No, not in this version.

EW: Traffic to Twitter.com has grown about 100% this year.

Q: Worried about becoming like Facebook?

KC: This still looks like Twitter.com — it’s all about consuming the tweets still. We chose not to do media within the tweets — it’s on the side.

Q: We’ve been seeing the “blue whale” a lot. Wil this hurt this?

JG: Ev talked about that a bit. We’ve rebuilt things. We can tackle those efforts now.

Q: What about search?

JG: Search is much more integrated into the experience now.

They’re going to flip the switch now. That’s a wrap!

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