Implications of New Twitter Design Are More Than Cosmetic
Twitter has redesigned its interface to provide a better user experience. While the user experience may be improved, the branding options for those who have customized their backgrounds have been limited. Backgrounds carefully crafted to create a brand presence, rich information and legally required information will no longer display optimally for most Twitter users. For some, the pharmaceutical industry in particular, the issue is more than cosmetic. The new Twitter design may cause pharma companies to have non-compliant materials in market and risk warning letters and fines from the FDA.
By Carlen Lea Lesser, VP/Director, RTCRM
Twitter is in the process of rolling out a completely redesigned interface to all users. Unlike many other services, it has given a great deal of warnings and even provided a “preview” view for several weeks. The new design is a fairly radical change, and largely for the best. The key issue for brands currently using Twitter is the effect this redesign has on the carefully crafted background images most companies have created.
Even though most people will only ever see a brand’s Twitter presence one time, and then interact with the brand through their own Twitter home page—most brands have created branded imagery, which often provides much greater information than Twitter’s native design options allow. Along with the new Twitter design providing less overall space for custom branding, the design is also fluid. This means that at some screen resolutions the customized elements may entirely disappear. In the old design, the left-hand column might have been truncated by smaller resolutions, but it was always visible.
Implications and Action Items
The implications for most brands are not dire. They will simply need to explore the new interface layouts and determine a new approach to branding their Twitter presences. There are very detailed and helpful guides available online, such as the excellent one by Mashable.com.10
For the pharmaceutical industry and other heavily regulated industries, however, the issue is more than just a cosmetic concern. The new Twitter interface does not provide space for the “fair balance” presentation of risk information required of the pharma industry. There are only a few pharma companies using Twitter for product-branded marketing, and those that are have hopefully already launched their updated designs. Any pharma company looking to use Twitter moving forward will have to truly consider if pharma regulations can be followed with the new design restriction.
Here are some important tips for all companies currently using Twitter:
10 HOW TO: Customize Your Background for the New Twitter http://tiny.cc/t85mr.
Review your current Twitter design presence in multiple screen resolutions and, if you are in the pharma industry, consider shuttering your existing presence until new designs can be approved by DDMAC.
- Redesign your Twitter background and profile to meet new design specifications.
- Ensure that key branding and legal elements are visible in resolutions used by your core audience and the majority of Web users.
- Pre-clear any new branded Twitter background with DDMAC or the appropriate regulatory body, and consider discontinuing branded use of Twitter until approval.
- Contact Twitter to discuss implications and potential accommodations for regulated industries.
Download Perspectives, October 2010 (pdf 1.49 Mb)