Twitter is rolling out a new homepage experience, as the social network seeks to engage its core audience and convince new users that the site is easy to use (and perhaps not so scary) after all.
The new desktop Twitter experience was announced in a tweet on Tuesday afternoon, but is only initially being made available to some users through an opt-in button on the homepage.
The revamped homepage experience appears simpler, with two columns, rather than three. The larger, left-hand column features the Twitter timeline, while the right-hand column contains items like trending topics and the usual “who to follow” widget. The redesign also includes advanced search tools. And of course, there’s emoji. To send an assortment of icons, users now can click the smiling icon on the bottom right corner of the tweet box.
A Twitter representative said the new look will be rolled out to the social network’s 326 million monthly active users sometime this year, but did not have a more specific timeline to share. Those who have the update seem to be offering mixed reactions, according to replies to the announcement tweet.
“I suspect reactions will be mixed, as with any update, but overall there is nothing seriously new or impressive with the revamp,” said Jen Golbeck, a professor of computer science at the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies.
However, Golbeck said the redesign could potentially be a way for Twitter to help new users engage on the site, something investors are looking for when Twitter reports earnings for the 2018 fiscal year on February 7.
“Twitter has always had a problem of being a bit difficult to start up with for new users,” she said. “The lingo is different and there are strong cultural conventions on the platform which take a little time to pick up. This may indeed be a step to make it a bit easier.”
Last quarter, Twitter reported 326 million monthly active users, falling short of Wall Street’s projection of 330 million. The company attributed its stagnant user growth to an ongoing purge of bots and fake accounts and efforts that prioritize conversational health on the platform.
$TWTR shares were down 3.1% at the close of trading on Tuesday.