Our First Impressions Of #newtwitter

Twitter’s first proper user interface overhaul since its launch in 2006 has caused a stir amongst its users, the social media community and here in the Fluid Creativity office – though that is more about jealousy from those who don’t have it yet towards those who do! Incidentally, our own Twitter (@fluidcreativity) DOES have it now:

New Twitter

So…was it worth Twitter’s effort to make these changes? This is just my personal opinion, but yes. The overhaul has been described by social media blog Mashable as “…an attack on all desktop apps” and it is. Here’s why.

Some of the major benefits of using a desktop app such as Tweetdeck and Seesmic Desktop included simple searches, profile viewing and following, the ability to view multimedia content like photos within the app and quick and easy viewing of mentions and retweets.

Old Twitter offered none of that with its clunky, user-unfriendly right-hand navigation and its inability to handle media of any kind. What New Twitter has done – and yes, I’m paraphrasing Mashable here – is take all the best bits from desktop apps and bundle them together for mainstream use.

According to Twitter CEO Evan Williams, 78% of people already used the web interface anyway. Now they’re going to get all the benefits the other 22% enjoyed – and that 22% may well dwindle now there’s no need to use a desktop app.

Let’s look at some of these features in action. As you can see from the pic above, Twitter have basically cut your screen in half. On the left is what you are used to seeing, your Twitter timeline with all the latest Tweets from those you follow.

Across the top of this is a much improved way of viewing your @Mentions, Retweets (by others, by you, and your Tweets, Retweeted), saved searches and your lists – quite simply, it’s tabbed.

Twitter's New Tabs

The search box is now perfectly placed at the top of the screen (along with the Home, Profile and your Direct Messages links) instead of squeezed halfway down the right hand side. Speaking of the right hand side…this is where the magic happens now.

The default view contains your last Tweet, the number of people you’re following (and a random selection of six), the number of people following you (and a random selection of 6), your Favourite Tweets, what Lists you’re on, Trending Topics and Who to follow suggestions.

It’s a far better design than Old Twitter, not least because all your vital information is above the fold, but also because it is a lot easier on the eye.

Where Twitter has really got it right though is what else that right hand side can do.

Viewing A Profile

Let’s say someone you are following has retweeted something interesting from someone you don’t follow. In Old Twitter you’d have had to navigate away from your timeline and visit that profile. In New Twitter you simply click their name and the right hand side column will give you:

  • Name
  • Twitter name
  • Bio
  • Number of Tweets, Followers, Following & Listed
  • The ability to Follow them, add them to a list of your own and even mention, block or report them
  • Their last three Tweets (and the ability to view more)

Twitter's New Profile View

You’re still on your own timeline over on the left and can return to your normal view on the right just by clicking close at the top of the profile. Efficient, intuitive and user friendly.

But Tweetdeck (my own preferred desktop app) has been offering this forever. That’s not quite enough to tempt a user BACK to the web interface, though it will likely stop many leaving for a desktop app.

Where Twitter has put one over the app makers is with rich multimedia integration into the stream.

Viewing Pictures & Video

Now when a link to an image or video appears in your timeline it is accompanied by a little icon indicating what it is (pic or video). Hover over the Tweet and a little arrow appears, click that and the image or video is displayed in the right hand column.

Other information displayed includes the latest three replies to the Tweet and the last three Tweets from the original Tweeter (that was a mouthful!). Clicking the link itself will still take you to the external site, be it Twitpic, Flickr, YouTube and any of the other 16 sites Twitter have partnered with to make this happen (full list below).

View multimedia on Twitter via the web interface

Incidentally, clicking the arrow on a Tweet that doesn’t contain any media will still display that information. A very nice touch.

Little Niggles With New Twitter That Are Barely Worth Mentioning But I Will Anyway

I am hard pressed to find fault with Twitter’s new design but in the interests of fairness I’ve looked hard and dug deep and found one. Yes, just one. The site is now a little bit slower to use. When typing a Tweet in the What’s Happening? Box, I find the letters don’t quite keep up with the speed of my typing. I’ve heard others complaining of the same so clearly there is an issue, it’s not just me or my computer. It’s something I’m sure Twitter will address in due course.

Oh, wait, I have one more niggle. Why, instead of just displaying the latest Tweets in my timeline, does Twitter insist on telling me how many more there have been and making me click the message to see them?

This annoyed me in Old Twitter and it annoys me now. If I can keep up in Tweetdeck and with a much improved search facility on Twitter.com surely Twitter can just go ahead and stream my timeline to me.

That’s it. Not much to complain about really, was it!

Is New Twitter The Death Of The Desktop App?

No, it isn’t. For the pure, single account Twitter user Twitter.com should now be the preferred option. For those of us with multiple Twitter accounts and the requirement of managing our Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media presences from one place, then the desktop app remains a must.

What Twitter have done is ensure that the 22% who access Twitter via apps, both desktop and mobile, doesn’t get any bigger and MAY even get smaller. They’ve given us a compelling reason to visit the web interface and have brought all the benefits those 22% enjoyed to the 78% who were there anyway.

I won’t abandon my use of Tweetdeck, I find it far too useful from a multiple account point of view but when I only want to focus on one, you’ll find me in Google Chrome looking (and marvelling) at Twitter.com.

Have you got New Twitter yet? What do you think of it? Will you be using it over a desktop app?

Twitter’s Partnerships

  • Written by on 1st October 2010 at 09:15
  • “Fluid Creativity is an award-winning, multi-service digital agency based in Manchester.”
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