Brief thoughts on The New Twitter

New Twitter!

New Twitter, in its busy, two-paned glory.

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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/verahannaford Vera Thomas Hannaford

    I got the new Twitter last week, and I like it. I wish that I could add comments to retweets and there was a top of page button.

  • http://tristanrineer.com Tristan Rineer

    I have the New Twitter now, and I have to say that I’m not impressed. It has some interesting new “features”, but a lot of the stuff that was easy to get to before is now buried X levels deep in the new menus that were completely unnecessary before.

    I know that there’s a twitter app for the iPad, but what if there are tablet users that want to use the web interface? Phone users get the mobile site, but tablet users may have trouble with the menus because of the touch interface on their hardware.

    I get that Twitter is trying to be competition with the desktop clients, but the new interface has made me even more determined to just stick with TweetDeck indefinitely (http://twitter.com/#!/TristanRineer/status/25879291854).

    • Anonymous

      I am a little curious as to what features you feel have been buried X levels deep now? I don’t seem to have trouble finding any features… Some features require one extra click (ie: Lists, actually that’s all I can think of), but that extra click is just to display a pull down menu. All together the layout feels cleaner and more natural. It feels like a modern website and not a 2001 chat forum.

  • Anonymous

    I welcome the Twitter change. I have always felt that the Twitter interface was a bit too Web 1.0 for me and was quickly becoming more and more outdated as each Twitter client updated. When they first aquired AteBits I found it laughable that the iPhone client was 10x better then the web interface.

    As for the conversations… I don’t feel that the change has really improved on the conversations aspect at all. Perhaps I haven’t fully understood it yet, but it appears to be just as much clicking to view the previous tweets as it’s always been. You click once to move it to the right with the replied to Tweet above the viewing tweet, then you click those over and over just as you would before. It’s all on one page, but it’s just as many clicks. The iPhone client displays conversations the best, showing all the replies in a row so you can actually view the conversation.

    All together, I am happy with the change. I enjoy it and I find myself visiting it more often. I, too, am using the Tweetdeck user streams edition though and I find that it’s the best app out there. My push notification app on my phone has an average 5-30ms delay on pushing @replies to me, and yet Tweetdeck constantly beats my phone and both applications almost always beat Twitter itself.