Thoughts on the Twitter Redesign

Twitter’s refreshing immediacy and brevity solidified its position as the unique and successful social media platform it is today. But does its recent redesign compromise the platform’s distinctive appeal?

image: Twitter

Twitter’s Unique Appeal

At first blush, the concept of Twitter sounded ridiculous and even a little narcissistic. Why should the Internet care about what you want to say at this very instant in 140 characters? But soon it morphed into something more.

Twitter came to create its own category of interaction. It was a new forum for breaking news. Journalists, and perhaps more importantly citizens, could now live-tweet what was happening on the ground. The hashtag system meant you could easily access all of the developments and talking points at conferences and events. Twitter also opened to the door to mass online discussions about current cultural topics or television shows.

The Redesign

Twitter stood apart because its simplicity was able to create complex and meaningful new ways of interacting with content. It is perhaps for this reason that so many are critical of its redesign. Many are likening it to Facebook, an interface which seems to grow more and more bloated and tangled with each new iteration. But if you look beyond the banner image similarity, there are other things to consider.

Aesthetically, the new profile page retains the defining vertical scrolling (although it seems they have also experimented with a tile-based layout). A container around each tweet breaks the continuous and compact feed dynamic. Tweet font sizes now vary based on an algorithm that emphasizes more popular posts.

Functionally, the new feed will ping the Twitter servers for automatic updates. Users can now choose to pin a tweet to the top of their feed and there is the option of toggling between three different views: just tweets, tweets with replies, and posts featuring image or video.

Whereas previously the appeal of Twitter lay in the global news feed, the designers seem to want to emphasize individual profile pages more. According to David Bellona, design lead on the project, this caters to visitors that are more interested in individual personalities.

When you look at the old profile, it’s basically a glorified stream with a header on top […] How do we slowly shift the boat to be able to make Twitter a little bit more understandable to the rest of us? –David Bellona quoted in Wired.

The redesign actually addresses many functional issues that have bothered me, personally. I’ve found myself trying, with difficulty, to follow Twitter conversations. I’ve also felt hampered when I wanted to continue tweeting but wanted a previous tweet to take precedence. The current Twitter is in some ways more intuitive.

Whether the changes feel useful or forced will probably depend on your tweeting habits. One thing’s for sure, we’ll have to familiarize ourselves with these new functionalities to best leverage them for marketing purposes.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

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