Twitter’s Next Focus: Simplify And Unify All Interfaces

During his sit down with the press today, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo offered up some good information. Some of it was in the form of stats, some was in their thinking on the business model (get this: occasional ads in the stream). But he also revealed something that was probably overlooked, but is important: the upcoming unification of Twitter’s various interfaces.

I had actually been hearing whispers about this for a few weeks now. Right around the time that Jack Dorsey ousted several product managers in one fell swoop, I was hearing this return to simplicity was going to the focus. And a part of that means creating #newnewtwitter to replace #newtwitter.

In talking about the “core product” today, Costolo noted that step one going forward was “simplifying the interface”. “We want Twitter to be dead-simple between different clients — you’ll see interfaces become more consistent,” he said. From what I’ve heard, this means an interface more like the mobile clients and less like the multi-pane views of New Twitter and the iPad app. That’s interesting since the iPad app influenced the web app. Now things may be headed back.

Twitter would like a way to have a nice, clean single stream of Tweets again, I hear. More advanced functionality would be handled in a tucked away but simple manner. Most importantly, the plan is to unify the controls and functionality across web, mobile, tablet, etc. One Twitter to rule them all.

You can get a glimpse into this thinking by visiting Twitter’s newer web apps. And all of this makes the pushback against third-party Twitter clients make even more sense. Twitter wants and needs to control the experience.

At the same time, Twitter is also focusing on a way to surface information that users may find important, but may not match a social graph. Costolo noted that during the recent Arab Spring uprisings, people were coming to Twitter to look for information, but would have to do so via a hashtag, and that was cumbersome to most. “We want to figure out an interface that captures the roar of the crowd, as well as the volume,” he said.

It’s also important to note that 40 percent of Twitter’s “active” users don’t actually Tweet. Instead, they lurk and browse. Costolo feels that simplifying the interface will help users like this, and there may be ways to get them more engaged by retweeting and replying at first, instead of explicitly Tweeting.

No word on when we may see #newnewtwitter, but I would imagine it will be sooner rather than later.