December 8, 2011; Source: NVDaily (Associated Press) | Twitter has been the leading model for where fast-paced social media is going, but their recent design overhaul is taking a step back to make site features more straightforward and easier to navigate. With the new face-lift, Twitter is hoping to draw in technology novices who in the past may have been intimidated by the enigmatic hash tag–filled social network. CEO of Twitter Dick Costolo explains the redesign as an attempt to “bridge the gap between the awareness of Twitter and the engagement on Twitter,” saying, “We are going to offer simplicity in a world of complexity.”

Twitter has incorporated a new navigation bar up top that encourages users to “Connect” and “Discover.” The “Connect” option lets you see any recent activity that involves you—from anyone who has followed you recently to mentions of your organization or personal account in other tweets. “Discover” allows users to browse through subjects denoted by hash tags and see information customized to individual interests. Twitter highlights news and topics based on the accounts users follow and the kinds of things they tweet about.

Another focus of Twitter’s redesign was to remove clutter and make the interface less complicated. A basic layout will make the site easier to use internationally, especially in remote areas where Internet access is infrequent and less reliable. Twitter has become a huge source of communication and outreach for revolutionary movements like the recent uprisings in Egypt and Libya. Egypt became such a viral online conversation this year that it was the most popular hash tag and country mentioned on Twitter in 2011.

Twitter is following in the footsteps of Facebook and Google +, and launching brand pages, which have a very similar interface to user pages but offer several additional features to showcase brands. Twitter has recruited twenty companies to introduce the new possibilities. The brand pages give companies and nonprofits the option to promote certain tweets so that they will be prominent at the top of their twitter feed. Brand pages will also allow organizations to include images and video in their Twitter header. This new look will create more differentiation between individuals and companies.

Will Twitter’s redesign help bridge the Twitter generation gap? Do you think this overhaul will help nonprofits, or are these new changes geared more toward corporations?—Aine Creedon