Whether you like it or not, Sina finally rolled out the new look of its Weibo to a small group of users. Like other typical Chinese web site, the page is now fully packed with menus, information and links. For the readers who are interested in the new layout but don’t read Chinese, here is the anatomy of the new Weibo. I don’t think it makes much sense to company it with the Twitter any more, but you probably can have some sense that if Sina Weibo is more than a microblogging site, i.e. is it evolving to a social network?
Layout – The page is re-designed and now has three column instead of the original two to give more space for more content and features.
Online Chat – the most interesting feature the new version brought in is the Online Chat. Just like Facebook online chat, user now is able to see which friends (Note, Friends here mean you two follow each other) are currently online on Weibo and chat with them. The conversation is saved as the direct messages;
Sina Apps – Like other social network site, Sina now list its own apps on the left column to give better exposure. Photo, Music, Events, Vote etc, obviously Sina has developed all the standard features for social networks by its own.
Third-party Apps – the third-party apps user has been using are listed on the left column too. Sina wants to better promote its open platform which hopefully can be the cash machine to bring Sina Weibo to the real success. Remember, that’s how Facebook started with.
Plaza – Sina Weibo is growing very fast in terms of the number of users and the amount of content generated. A good mechanism to push the interesting users and content to the users is getting important. In addition to Hot Topics and Recommended Users on the main page, Sina Weibo also has a Plaza which is the place you can find all sorts of featured content and users.
At last, Sina Weibo’s virtual currency, Weibi is now listed in My Account. On Weibi page, you can check the mini-games in which you can buy virtual stuff with Weibi, your purchase history and add credit etc.