Twitter started displaying more context about trending topics for mobile users of the network earlier this month. This week, the company is moving this initiative to the web, gradually rolling out the feature on their web portal.
Not everyone is seeing the change yet, but those who do are being presented with a description for each of the trending topics in the left-side bar. In some cases, there’s also information about when a topic started trending and number of tweets it has spawned.
The new change will also bring the end of the Discovery tab, which had already been deleted from the mobile apps. Discover, that was originally intended to surface high-quality and popular tweets from a user’s network, had been made largely redundant because by recent Twitter moves to surface content in other ways — for instance, the While You Were Away mobile feature and this week’s introduction of Highlights to provide a twice daily snapshot of the best Twitter has to offer.
These new changes and updates are Twitter’s strategy to improve the experience for casual users in the hope that more of them will make the network a regular part of their daily digital routine which is pivotal for a company trying to pick up the pace of growth in its base of 288 million monthly active users.
Trends with descriptions are being made available to people in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The feature is still limited to English language users who have enabled tailored trends.
Twitter's engineering manager Zhenghua Li said in a blog post today. “This is the largest engineering undertaking of the trends system since 2008,” Li wrote. The topic descriptions are created algorithmically, and in testing, have boosted engagement.
Here’s how Li’s blog post described what may be displayed:
- A description: Short text descriptions are presented to explain the meaning of a trend. Currently, they are mainly retrieved from popular articles shared on Twitter.
- An image: Surfacing a relevant image provides our users with direct visual knowledge. Trend images can come either from popular images or news articles shared on Twitter. [But images aren’t currently displayed in the web version of the widget.]
- Twitter-specific information: The volume of Tweets and Retweets of a trend, or the time in which it started trending, helps users understand the magnitude of conversation surrounding the topic.