“We’re trying to connect what’s happening offline and across the web with Twitter,” product manager Sara Mauskopf tells me today during the redesign launch event at Twitter’s new headquarters. This means incorporating two features that were originally created by its users — the “at” symbol (@) and the hashtag (#).
Twitter now has more than 100 million people, and many of them still don’t fully understand these symbols, even if they’ve seen them popping up across TV shows, billboards, and the rest of the world.
So, think of the integration of these symbols as the next stage in Twitter trying to guide the user experience. Last year, it took ownership of how users consumed and shared through the service by buying or competing against third party desktop and mobile clients.
Now, in the new interface, you can see both symbols featured prominently in the top navigation bar. If you click on “@ Connect” you’ll see a page that tries to show you every single thing happening that’s directly related to you. Within this page, though, the use of the @ symbol is less crucial than before, which could help newer users get more context for what it means and how to use it.
The page defaults to “Interactions,” which is a stream of all the activity related to you. It replaces “@mentions and more” in the former interface. The “Mentions” option is now set as the secondary choice. To further show users what’s going on related to them, the page also includes the follow recommendations box on the right-hand side, immediately beneath the Interactions and Mentions views.
The result of this new page is that a new user, say, your mom, will suddenly see everything possibly related to them, and quickly find other users they might find interesting. It should drive more engagement among the millions of users who mostly watch but don’t publish, and help first-time users see how they can get started.
The # mark gets similarly heavy grooming. Following the @ symbol in the top nav bar, you’ll click on it and see a page that feels a lot like a personalized newspaper based on Twitter content. A left-hand navigation column lets you sort through Stories (a personalized view of relevant content), Activity, Who To Follow recommendations, the friend finder, and Browse Categories. Beneath it is Trends. The hashtag is also incorporated into the search bar at the top of the page. As Jack Dorsey said during the press event today, this means a user who sees a hashtag on a billboard can quickly figure out what it means when they go to Twitter.
While some aspects of the redesign look like reorganized versions of what was there before, the heavy incorporation of symbols could help the service become more mainstream than ever.