Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Twitter redesign mainly serves its purpose

This company has done some things that turned out to be less than impressive, such as the acquisition of Periscope (does anyone even remember it?). The decision to allow people to use 280 characters in tweets was, on the other hand, a good one to make.

Overall, the recent native site redesign seems to have been managed well. The actual design decisions that were implemented as part of the redesign are mostly good and have to a large degree improved the experience of using the site. This is just my view, and other people might have different ideas about this.

With the new interface, the navigation buttons have been put down the side of the feed. You can, for example, click on the “Profile” link if you want to see how many followers you currently have, or to see how many people you yourself are following. Nearer to the top of the page, the “Notifications” link allows you to click to see the interactions people have performed with respect to your account, such as likes and retweets and replies. As with the “Profile” link, clicking on this link does not cause the home page to refresh (unless you are at the top of the feed) so you won’t always lose your place when you go back “Home”.

The indicator on the home page that shows the number of notifications currently registered that you haven’t look at yet, is also welcome. This feature is also linked to your mobile phone app, so looking at a notification on your phone will mean that it will be flagged as having been seen on the website as well.

The following image shows the notifications page in a screenshot I made recently. You can see that the “Notifications” link has been selected using the mouse cursor. The notifications are shown in the centre of the display and some other, unimportant, items are (optimistically) shown on the right-hand side of the screen. The indicator that shows you how many unseen notifications there are is not visible here because it disappears once the “Notifications” link has been clicked.

From these implementations of interactivity, it seems to me that the designers have thought deeply about how people really want to use the site, and they have evidently tested out different iterations before settling on the final configuration. 

One thing that surprised me however is that the “Profile” page does not show all tweets that you put up. At least that’s true in my case, as it only shows me tweets that contain links from my blog. Other tweets, such as replies to tweets from other account holders, are omitted from my view. This is a bit strange but, in any case, I usually use TweetDeck to carry out my daily tasks on the platform.

The new webpage is a big improvement over what existed before the change. Back then, I used to use the app on my mobile phone to view notifications, whereas now I use the webpage. What is especially welcome is the ability to easily see different views of information associated with your account without constantly refreshing your feed. Even given the reservations I have described above, in my view the changes make for a big improvement in Twitter.

Many people have been asking for a means to allow people with a Twitter account to edit tweets once they have been sent, but I haven’t seen any indication from the company that this change will be brought in. Personally, this does not appear to be a major issue. When I write a tweet I usually reread it before sending it, often more than once. Perhaps people should just slow down their conversations a bit if they want to avoid errors. When I do make an error in a tweet it is usually a minor one that, often, I just allow to stand. Sometimes, depending on the recipient and depending on the nature of the error, I will delete a tweet and resend it, but this doesn’t happen very often at all.

[UPDATE 31 August, 4.15am:] Today I had a look for the first time at the "Analytics" page and was very impressed. The information on this page allows you to see how much impact each of the most influential tweets you have made in a month has had. It also shows you the most influential follower you have each month, which can form a guide to who to follow. For example, you can see how many impressions each of the most-seen tweets have had. I have to say that, since writing the review that appears above, I have been very impressed by the new Twitter interface. Now, I look at it more than I look at Facebook.

[UPDATE 2 October, 12.54pm:] TweetDeck went down at lunchtime and thousands of people were forced to use the native Twitter interface. The comments I saw using a search term were ferocious. Journalists, especially, seem to have been hard-hit. The term "tweetdeck" was not  shown trending on the Twitter page but it should have been, it was being very heavily used. TweetDeck came back online at 3.18pm AEST.

[UPDATE 3 October, 11.20am:] I had gotten into the habit, using the native Twitter interface, of shadowing tweets about different authors, authors whose books I had reviewed. The interface makes this easy to  do because the home page stores past searches and gives them in a list when you click in the search field with your mouse cursor. I am able, in this way, to share reviews with people who had an interest - or who might have an interest, going by what they had tweeted - in the reviews I had written and published on the blog. Sharing had become so much easier with the new interface made by Twitter.

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