Twitter’s Redesigned Profile Page: An Update That is Purely Imitation

May 1, 2014
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I obtained the new Twitter profile layout this past week and finally got to tinker and toy with the updated design on the profile page. After reading about the new aesthetics and seeing example account pages, I was excited about how I would be able to make the changes to my personal page.

While I do like the update, I was not completely blown away by all of the new features. The enlarged profile picture and banner image are nice touches, but the 1500 pixel x 500 pixel dimensions are not common for images. This made it very difficult to find a photo that fit neatly into the new banner.

The information bar below the header also includes a new “Favorites” section, showing the number of tweets that a user has “favorited.” While seemingly harmless, this opens up a glimpse into what types of tweets each user enjoys, almost like reading through the pages of someone’s social diary.

The one major issue I have with the new design function of Twitter’s profile page is the background. It is BORING! Below you can see a comparison of my Home page layout and the Me (profile) page. Notice anything drastically different?

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OldTwitterIf you noticed the gray background on the profile page, you are correct! For 3 of the 4 page options in Twitter— The Home, Notifications and Discover pages—there is a background image, mine is a University of Michigan logo. However, the Profile page somehow does not include this, it is a simple, bland gray background.

To say I am making a mountain out of a molehill is understandable, but it is an odd, and hopefully overlooked, design flaw.

All of that said, I do like the overall changes that Twitter made. While somewhat minimal, I think this update keeps things fresh and offers a few new tools to help boost engagement. However, I believe there is a reason why these changes were not too alarming; they already existed.

Facebook is big brother when it comes to social media. With 1.28 Billion monthly active users, Facebook has over 5 times as many as Twitter, which has 241 Million monthly active users. Twitter has always found ways to incorporate features, tools, and UI concepts from Facebook into their platform, and this new profile design is no exception. Facebook actually introduced the full width cover photo first, launching it several years ago in 2011.

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As seen above, the similarities between the Facebook profile page and my new Twitter profile are fairly obvious. Is there any other reason that Twitter is playing copycat other than the fact that they want to emulate the best performing social media platform out there? Likely not. One of Twitter’s primary goals is to grow its active user base, and by making design changes to court unregistered users, the platform hopes to lure the mainstream audiences who are comfortable with Facebook’s user interface.

As the saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

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