Twitter.com is a barren wasteland.
I should qualify that statement. For the roughly 20 percent of American adults who maintain active Twitter accounts, the site is an overflowing river of wry observations, edifying links, and up-to-the-second dispatches from around the world.
But they’re the minority. For the vast bulk of Internet users, Twitter offers none of the above. Visit the home page and you’ll find little more than a background photo, a few lines of text, and a prompt to sign up or log in. Follow a link to an individual tweet or profile page, and you’ll find yourself blocked from further action unless you enter credentials.
By Twitter’s own count, 500 million people visit the site every month without being logged in. Some 150 million of those come directly to Twitter.com, making its home page one of the more popular pages on the Web. That represents an enormous potential audience for a company that has been dogged by its struggles to attract new members. And yet, for those without an account, Twitter.com doesn’t feel like a destination. It feels like a dead end.
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That’s finally about to change. In the coming days, Twitter will publicly launch a new home page for logged-out visitors, company sources tell me. It will initially be available to all desktop users of the site’s English-language versions. And it will look a lot like – although not identical to – the one the company has quietly been testing among a small group of users in recent months.