Twitter Simplifies in Bid to Engage More Users

MICHAEL LIEDTKE | AP Technology Writer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Twitter has redesigned its short messaging service to make it simpler, faster and more personal.

The changes were released Thursday in updates to Twitter's software for smartphones and tablet computers. Visitors to Twitter's website should start seeing the new look during the next few weeks.

Twitter revamped the software to address one of its biggest challenges. Although a lot of people generally know what Twitter is, many still don't understand how to use the service and its various tools.

The redesign is an attempt to "bridge the gap between the awareness of Twitter and the engagement on Twitter," company CEO Dick Costolo said.

Roughly 40 percent of Twitter's more than 100 million active users log into the service without ever posting a "tweet" – messages limited to no more than 140 characters. That isn't a problem, Costolo said, because those people still actively use the service, as they enjoy the information that they get from the people and companies that they are following.

Twitter is hoping to win over those who have accounts but often leave in frustration because they find it difficult to navigate.

With the changes, it will be easier to find people and companies with Twitter profiles. All it will take is typing an "at" symbol in front of a user's handle. Entering a subject with a hash tag – the pound symbol – in front of it will show everything on Twitter related to that topic. And clicking on a specific tweet will display any other exchanges tied to the message to provide further context about the discussion.

Profile pages are also being expanded so individuals and companies can showcase more information about themselves in text, photos and video.

"We are going to offer simplicity in a world of complexity," Costolo said.

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