What you can learn from Twitter's new homepage
Develop | Posted April 23, 2010

A few weeks ago, we brought you the news that Twitter would be updating its homepage to enhance the user experience and include more dynamic content and real-time updates of popular tweets, trending topics, etc. Now it seems that all the new features are up and running, and the switchover went smoothly. The page looks great, and we haven't reported any major performance issues.

What are the major takeaways from Twitter's successful web redesign? Consider these two key factors when editing or adding new content to your own sites and blogs.

1. Consumer bandwidth. Adding more interactive content and real-time updates to your site may create a more visual and unique experience for your visitors, but be aware that the people you're targeting might not have the bandwidth to load all the new attributes and graphics. If they don't, the page will load slowly or not at all, and users might get a time-out error instead.

One way to ensure that your fans can still digest your page, is to offer them the option to "turn off" certain graphics. Users that can't load the new features or are continuously being met with time-outs, can opt to view the web page in a more textually based side (versus the newer graphically based version). This might require additional resources, however, so restricting the types or frequency of updates to your site could lessen the burden.

2. Optimization. Make sure the content you are adding, whether it be images, Flash video, third-party content, etc., is optimized so as to minimize the response times. This goes beyond making sure the homepage loads quickly when a user types in the URL, however. You also need to optimize all interactive aspects of your site. For example, if you have search fields where users can type in text, and the system is interpreting data more slowly than the user is typing, there can be type-over. That's not necessarily the kind of experience you want your users (potential customers?) to have.

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