WIRED.com reports that Twitter is making tweaks to its interface to encourage users to communicate with each other.

The main thing I’ve found using the new version is that the way you send and receive direct messages, see what your friends are up to, and take part in public conversations are all lot more obvious. That’s especially true of messages. That dedicated button for messages (which Twitter, interestingly, isn’t calling direct messages) is glaring at you all the time, inviting action.

It’s a big change. Twitter had buried the direct message in previous versions of the app. It was hard to find, and hard to understand how to compose a new one. Now it’s front and center, and meant to get you talking to people, directly, one-on-one, just as the Notifications tab is meant to get people interacting with each other publicly. Between Notifications and Messages, half of the app’s buttons are devoted to conversations.

Messaging is a big way for companies to keep users in the app. Facebook messages is the main pull for me to get onto the social network. When using Facebook messages on desktop and iPad, I find myself invariably drawn into going through my News Feed. No wonder Instagram is rumoured to be interested in messaging too.

How big is messaging? Tencent’s WeChat and QQ messaging apps boast of more than a billion users. Even LINE outnumbers Twitter with its 300 million users. Although Twitter has 883 million accounts, only 232 million are active users. But is Twitter too late to jump onto the messaging bandwagon?