Twitter has launched the biggest redesign in its company history, introducing a new interface for Twitter.com that makes it easier to share and consume information with other users. The company is now providing features to users that are quite similar to what outside developers have already built — but the move also creates more possibilities for third parties.
Here’s a closer look at what’s visible now, and what could be coming in the future. Overall, the change is likely to reinforce Twitter’s value to marketers, in ways that are similar to Facebook’s Pages feature.
The new Twitter site includes a right-hand pane, that defaults to a variety of information about users — follower counts, follow suggestions, trends, and other information that you could see in the previous right-hand navigation column on the site. But Twitter is also including a way new way of reading tweets: if you click on any tweet in the left-hand column, you’ll see detailed information about it appear on the right, including items mentioned in the tweet and tweets mentioning the user who tweeted.
And, if the tweet includes links from any of 16 companies who have signed business deals with Twitter, you’ll also have the option to view the content of the link in the right-hand pane. Most of the companies are the in the media business, but a couple aren’t and they point the way to how Twitter could build out its value to many more third parties.
One is Etsy, an online handmade items store. If you click on links to Etsy listings, you have the option to view the media in the listing. The listings include images of the crafts, or other products for sale, as well as their prices.
The other non-media company is Kiva, an online microlending site. Its links reveal the profiles of entrepreneurs in developing countries, looking to raise money for their businesses.
In both cases, you’d need to click through to the home sites to make a transaction. But Twitter could decide to introduce a payments system directly into its interface, minimizing the amount of clicking required to make purchases — allowing people to buy what they see in links, without having to leave the site. That could ease the flow of commerce through the service, and open up new revenue streams for itself, if it decides to take a cut of the money it helps generate.
Similarly, it could enable a variety of other interactions within these panes. Perhaps it could allow some social games in here as well at some point? For now, the feature looks more like how companies are using tabs on Facebook Pages, and less like a full-blown developer type service, but that could change.
We asked the company for more details about its plans for this pane and its platform during its launch event today in San Francisco. For now, employees we spoke to said, it is trying to refine the new product — but it is clearly open to exploring these sorts of ideas, judging by some of its early partners.
For more details on the wider launch, be sure to check out Techmeme.