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Twitter's 2011 redesign: The hits and misses

Twitter has done a comprehensive overhaul of its user experience across Twitter.com and its apps. See what they got right and what's still wrong.

Twitter recently overhauled and standardized its user experience across Twitter.com, the Android and iPhone Twitter apps, and the desktop power user app Tweetdeck. The company dubbed this the "Fly" redesign and after using the various pieces for a week I've come up with a quick list of the hits and misses.

I was highly critical of the 2010 Twitter redesign but I've written extensively about how Twitter can be useful for technologists and business professionals (see list of links at the bottom). There's more to like with the 2011 upgrade -- certainly the influence of returning co-founder Jack Dorsey is at work -- but there are also things that still haven't been fixed and some new problems that have been created.

Hits

  • Threading - The number one thing I mentioned in my article The two features Twitter should have been working on instead of #NewTwitter was message threading -- the ability to quickly and easily see all of the responses to a Twitter post (and the responses to the responses). With "Fly" you can now click on a tweet on Twitter.com and in the mobile apps and see all of the Replies, Retweets, and Favorites for a post. That works for me.
  • Interactions instead of mentions - Twitter used to just show you "Mentions," which included replies and other instances where someone mentioned your username (@jasonhiner, for example). However, the new column that has replaced Mentions is curiously called @Connect. In addition to mentions of your username, it now shows you when a post gets retweeted, when a post gets favorited, when you get new followers, and when someone adds you to a list. Twitter had been experimenting with this for a while, but made it the default in the new design. Interactions can get a little noisy, so there's also still the option to just see Mentions.
  • Standardized iPhone and Android apps - One of the worst things about Twitter was that the website, mobile website, tablet apps, and smartphone apps all had different features and interfaces. Twitter took a number of steps to unify this in the Fly redesign, but the best thing it did was to give the iPhone and Android apps the same overall design and experience, including integration of threading and the new @Connect feature.

Misses

  • Tweetdeck emasculation - While the Twitter.com and Android/iPhone apps were widely publicized, one of the lesser known updates that was done at the same time was the re-release of Tweetdeck, the popular desktop client that power users love. Twitter bought Tweetdeck earlier this year and had left it alone until now. The latest update simplifies the app greatly, but also makes it far less customizable, which is what power users want. As a result, I've back to the old Tweetdeck for now.
  • No more swipe-right in mobile apps - One of the nice features of the mobile apps on iPhone and Android was the ability to swipe-right on a tweet in order to favorite, retweet, or respond to it. This useful multitouch feature is gone now. You now have to tap the tweet and go into its full details in order to do any of these things. There was no good reason not to keep the swipe-right functionality.
  • Still no voting - Twitter still has not implemented voting so that you can "Like" or "+1" a post like you can on Facebook and Google+, respectively. There are a number of reasons that voting could be a huge benefit on Twitter, and I've talked about them in this post.

What else?

What other hits and misses do you see in the "Fly" redesign or #NewNewTwitter, as some people are calling it? Post your thoughts in the discussion below.

Also read

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

11 comments
vjanecky
vjanecky

I don't post on here often.. and didnt notice the reply link. Wasn't trying to attack anyone or anything of that nature. Was just pointing out that I meant the phone app.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

The different interfaces used by various forums can be confusing.

vjanecky
vjanecky

jebswebs for the record I was referring to the Iphone application not the website. The app used to allow to swipe to the right ..which would bring up a menu. Retweet, reply, quote and favorite were all part of this menu which as this article discusses..appears to have been removed from the app. The retweet, reply, quote and favorite can all be found by selecting the individual tweet but does anyone know where translation went?

seanferd
seanferd like.author.displayName 1 Like

I don't think jebswebs was replying to you. But if you want to reply to jebswebs, use the Reply link at the post in question. Hope this helps you to follow the conversation.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

TR has a 'threaded' or 'nested' forum. Instead of replying to the overall topic and the original author, you can use the 'Reply' link an individual comment to reply to that specific poster. jebswebs was replying to Jason, not to your post directly above his. Threaded forums: your clue to quality literature.

jirving
jirving like.author.displayName 1 Like

The new Android app's timeline emphasizes the Profile Name in boldface with the "@" Account Name next to it and less prominent. As a result, it looked like I was following an entirely different list of people. Many people, like me, had their actual full or first name listed as the profile name, presumably because it was only indirectly accessible. Now it's front and center. This has led me to reconsider whether to include my real name in my profile at all. Still up in the air about this.

jebswebs
jebswebs

I rarely, if ever use the Twitter web portal to check my tweets. I use Ecofon for Twitter on iPad and iPod Touch primarily. If I have the time, I will use Tweetdeck on one of my laptops. So, all of the things people have mentioned in this article and in the comments are things that can be done with these alternate applications. So, I love Twitter because one can use all of these different apps to use and post content. This is the same reason why I dislike Facebook. There are basically two options to use and post content in FB, the web portal and the FB-owned mobile app. Both stink and the web portal changes every couple of days forcing me to waste time trying to do things that I could do the day before but have now been moved. BTW, my Twitter web portal page has not been updated. @jebswebs.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer like.author.displayName 1 Like

You may or may not know, but I'm on record as being skeptical of the Blue Bird. I can't make heads or tails of it, don't understand how to follow 'conversations', and absolutely hate it when those I've followed for professional or informational reasons post about their personal lives. Would Tweetdeck fix any of these issues?

vjanecky
vjanecky

Is it just me...or when the right swipe disappeared did the translate option disappear with it?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

It might as well be me. However, I took my annual look at Twitter a few months ago. The threading feature sounds like it may be the solution to my total inability to follow 'conversations', and is almost enough to tempt me to take another look ahead of schedule. Almost, but not quite, and they'll probably overhaul the interface again before I get around to another look.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

It is a Twitter post, after all (and only my third or fourth of 2011). I'd have been disappointed if you weren't leading the charge in this discussion. :-)