I along with a lot of people got the new Twitter Web interface yesterday afternoon. It’s a pretty radical departure from the Web interface I’ve gotten to know over the last few years. While I do spend plenty of time in a client (lately TweetDeck User Streams Edition), I do like to use the website to run quick searches and take casual glances at Twitter (as TweetDeck can be an attention suck). Here are a few of my thoughts on the new Twitter Web interface.
- New Twitter is quite powerful, and has features I haven’t yet seen in a client. It handles conversation threading better than any client I’ve seen yet and handles the increasingly rich metadata attached to Tweets with ease. The conversation features alone will save me some time, particularly as TweetDeck’s don’t seem to be very reliable.
- I see a lot of Atebits influence in the design. Always a plus. (Atebits is the company manned by Loren Brichter, since acquired by Twitter, that made Tweetie for iPhone and Mac.) No hovercards, either, which is good from both an annoyance and touch-usability perspective. I hear this closely resembles Twitter for iPad (which I’ve yet to try). The copious Helvetica Neue is icing on the cake.
- I can’t help but think Twitter has been robbed of its simplicity some. Given the richer nature of Tweets than there were in 2007, I can’t say it’s unexpected that Twitter would adjust its Web client accordingly (and it probably is about time), but I feel like there can be too much happening on-screen at times.
- New Twitter’s updates are consistently 30 seconds to a minute behind TweetDeck User Streams. The old Web interface was still a bit behind but not nearly as much.
- I’m not a huge fan of any implementation of a constantly scrolling Web page. God help me if I click a link, hit Back, and try to find the Tweet I was at so I could keep going. This was a problem with the old interface and the “more” button — now it’s just automated. Pagination still has a good place on the Web but is becoming increasingly unpopular in the age of the river of news, and I’m not sure that’s so good from a usability standpoint.
- Trying to scroll up with the mouse pointer over the right pane is punishment and not recommended.
- Some of the menus (particularly lists) are larger than a maximized Chrome window on my MacBook Pro’s 1280×800 screen. It’s a bit awkward having to scroll the entire page to get the rest of the menu.
- New Twitter uses a 1040px-wide layout, so a lot of custom backgrounds with text (including ReadWriteWeb‘s) will have to be seriously rethought if not scrapped altogether for something more generic. Backgrounds with explainer text were always a hack, but there was at least a minimum resolution with which some branding could be effectively applied; now, not so much. It will be interesting to see how Twitter profile design evolves over the next several months in response to the new interface. Hopefully Twitter will throw designers some additional options as it evolves (the option to center backgrounds would be a great start).
Overall, I do think New Twitter is pretty well done; it just needs some additional fit and finish before it becomes the permanent solution. This is a preview, and if you want Old Twitter, you can have it back — for now. I’ll be sticking with the new interface as I think it is a richer, more informative experience that really demonstrates how Twitter as a platform has evolved over the last couple years.
Do you have New Twitter? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the recently-installed Disqus comments.