First, let me say that I love Twitter. I was a slow convert, but love it despite its problems. And that said, I’m continually amazed by Twitter’s ability to create problems in an attempt to solve problems that were never really problems in the first place. “New Twitter” is just the latest example.
“Wait. What are you talking about?” I can hear a few of you thinking. Well, let’s see….
First Came the Retweet Button, Inhibiting Conversations
Retweeting has always been an important part of Twitter — the site’s viral element. It also enabled people to RT something while adding to the conversation (such as by tacking on a brief comment of their own). Then Twitter decided to add a RT button.
I think they really did mean well, given that the RT button meant you didn’t have to copy and paste in the original poster’s handle, saving you some of your 140 characters. But if it wasn’t to enable you to add more commentary of your own, how valuable is that saved space really? Not very much.
Add to the lost conversation factor the “strangers are now appearing in my Twitter feed” issue (because RTs aren’t posted from the person RTing, but from the original poster instead, even if you’re not following them). Suddenly you have more problems introduced than the feature actually solved.
Next Came “Who to Follow,” Being Told Who We Should Befriend
The “who to follow” feature was the next gaffe. I don’t know about you, but I never asked Twitter to tell me who I should follow. I didn’t ask to have companies and people I greatly dislike constantly thrown in my face because we have a shared interest or two (I even had someone I’d previously blocked in there — seriously?). And I didn’t ask for help choosing who I might be interested in. I could do that by checking out friends’ and colleagues’ feeds and lists. I could search.
Now Twitter had the opportunity to do this well. They could have created a separate page for their darling “who to follow” lists so they were optional. But they didn’t. They put them front and center, above-the-fold on everyone’s start pages. I like working right through Twitter’s site. The “who to follow” feature did such a great job displacing information I actually wanted to see there that it’s made me rethink that.
Now Comes “New Twitter”
I’m sure there are some good elements to “New Twitter,” as they’re calling it. But once again Twitter’s stepped in changing things in a way that potentially causes more problems than what they were trying to address in the first place.
A few examples?
- The new format screws up established Twitter backgrounds for professionals and businesses.
- I’ve seen colleagues who switch and then have a hard time switching back when they don’t like it.
- The last time I previewed it, “New Twitter” took two clicks to get to someone’s full profile page instead of the normal one click.
- Sidebar data is crammed — kind of like forcing everyone to use a double-sidebar on their blogs even though we all know there’s a tendency to litter extra space with unneeded garbage.
- The real content of the site (you know — the, um, tweets) are less prominently displayed than they are on the original Twitter layout.
- Not only is “who to follow” still too dominant in the sidebar, but “trends” (which I don’t give a rat’s furry little behind about most days) are equally so.
I’m not exactly someone who’s against change. I just prefer intelligent change, well-thought-out change. And from what I’ve seen, “New Twitter” fails to meet either of those conditions. But who knows. Maybe Twitter will eventually stop pretending to know what I want, actually ask me (and you), and manage to give it to us without screwing up anything else in the process. For the time being I’ll tick to “Old Twitter,” thanks. And the moment “New Twitter” is forced on me, I’ll either switch to other platforms that don’t try to make my mind up for me, or I’ll simply find better ways to spend my time.