Yesterday, Twitter announced via their blog a major profile redesign for all accounts: header photos. The announcement was also broadcast on the Today Show, with an interview with Twitter CEO Dick Costolo. Along with the interview, Twitter gave the Today Show and its stars early access to the new profile feature so they could launch the new design as the announcement was made.
While it is not surprising that Twitter jumped on the bandwagon of having an increasingly photo-centric design, it is if not surprising, at least disappointing that the feature they rolled out SO closely resembles Facebook and Google+. Similarly to Facebook, Twitter is integrating the new header photo into mobile as well as Web.
Unlike Facebook though, users profile photo are in the center of the header photo, and the rest of the profile information is written on top of the image as well. This leaves room for some fun, creative designs that could even incorporate a profile description in it.
As we pointed out recently, social media companies seem afraid to break the mold of what other networks are doing, and appear to be successful. Instead of innovating, they just repurpose other ideas for themselves. This isn’t a new practice in product development, but it is something you would hope cutting edge companies like Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, Tumblr and others would try to achieve.
While overall it appears there is not an overly strong positive or negative response to Twitter’s redesign, besides “hey that looks a lot like what Facebook has,” there is one major reason this seems like this should have little to no effect on Twitter’s future; users rarely go to Twitter profiles.
Almost all interaction on Twitter is done through third party applications, or through the mobile stream. People just don’t spend time on Twitter profiles, mainly because there is little to nothing there for them. Even on Twitter.com when clicking on a user’s name, it does not bring you to their profile, but a truncated pop-up version where the header will not be visible.
One thing Twitter seems to have that will make users happy is that unlike Facebook, it appears that Twitter won’t be forcing users to have a photo, and the space for it only appears once the photo is added.