The new Twitter interface: bye, bye backgrounds

16 September 2010

Playing with the new Twitter interface, one thing struck me immediately: the increase in the relative width of the content area means that backgrounds are essentially now redundant. See what I mean below, which shows the difference between the two in a browser set with an active width of 1,268 pixels:

Before: the old Twitter interface

After: the new Twitter interface

Why is this a problem? As @joannejacobs points out, this is already an issue for those with smaller screen resolutions. Well, maybe it won’t be long term but I see two immediate issues that brands in particular will need to address:

  1. Because Twitter is rolling out the new interface on a staggered basis (for marketing rather than technical reasons, I suggest) those who have not yet been “issued” with the new interface can’t actually see the problem even though it is affecting those who have right now.
  2. Companies who use their backgrounds to impart useful information like who runs their accounts, useful URLs and telephone numbers, etc. will have to find another way to convey this info.

The online ecosystems that have sprung up around Twitter do seem to be getting kicked in the teeth with this new update. Some have already argued that the inclusion of rich media in the web interface now makes third party applications using the Twitter API redundant, and this – albeit very minor – change could well hit the advertising revenues of all the Twitter theme download sites.

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