2011-12-08

The #newtwitter user interface

Twitter today announced a new user interface for its service. This post describes its structure.

The challenge

It is difficult to get started with Twitter. If you are new, you need to figure out how everything works and how to find information. The new user interface tries to make that simpler.

The tabs

The new user interface has five tabs (user interface sections, if you will) that are the same on desktop, phone, tablet, and web.

  • Home: See your timeline, with your tweets and the tweets of accounts you are following.
  • @ Connect: This tab is about people and interactions – who retweeted you, followed you, mentioned you or favorited one of your tweets. You can also search for people here.
  • # Discover: Here there are lists of important stories, trends, and who to follow. You can also find friends and browse a fixed set of categories.
  • Me: profile information, account settings, access to tweets, accounts you are following, followers, direct messages, drafts, lists, saved searches.
  • Tweet: lets you write new tweets.
More tweaks: Images and replies are displayed after a tweet. Alas, the latter only shows direct replies, not several ones. And while there is an icon in the list view that indicates when there is an attached image, there is no such icon for replies, so you always have to go to a tweet detail view to find out if there are any.

Critiques

How features are currently partitioned does not yet make complete sense. The problem is that Discover mixes #-related features and @-related features. I see two options to fix this.
  • Keep the partitioning as it is, change “Connect” to “Activities” and create new icons for “Activities” and “Discover”.
  • Keep all icons, rename @ to People and # to Topics, move people/account-related things from # to @.
The new user interface is a valiant try to move Twitter closer to social networks like Facebook, to make it more accessible. In the process, it will probably alienate some existing core users.
  • The New Twitter (R.I.P. Tweetie)”. John Gruber does not like the user interface redesign.
    If you frequently use direct messages and/or multiple accounts, I don’t see how you can view this new Twitter app as anything but a step back.
  • The new, new Twitter: 10 big takeaways” by Dan Frommer:
    Twitter is planning to be huge. Both in terms of worldly significance and company size. That’s why it’s making a product that anyone and everyone can use. That’s why it wants you to be able to embed a tweet conversation on any website. That’s why it’s building such a massive new office in San Francisco. And that’s why this ad stuff really, really needs to work — because if Twitter can’t eventually turn its product into a big business, it’s not going to be a pretty story.

Where can I try it out?

Quoting [1]:
We’ll be rolling out the redesigned Twitter over the next few weeks. You can see it immediately on the just-updated versions of mobile.twitter.com, Twitter for iPhone, and Twitter for Android. ... We’re working on updates for other apps, such as Twitter for iPad, and will share news as they become available.
The non-mobile Twitter.com now has the new user interface, too.

Related reading

  1. The Twitter blog: “Let's Fly” – the motto of the new user interface.

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