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The New Twitter – Improvements to Design and Usability

September 29, 2010 by USM Interactive

If you’re familiar with twitter, you’re probably aware of the hype around the new design lately.  The new layout has been rolling out at “random” all over the world.  As people get it, they show off using the hashtag #newtwitter (I was one of those people) and for people that don’t have it yet they nag twitter constantly for it.  Twitter has had a few changes here and there the past year that has improved usability. One of these included hover cards which allow you to view a person’s info by hovering over their name allowing you to skip a step and not have to click through to their profile page.  Another one improved how re tweets function allowing you to better track who’s re tweeting what.

This update on the other hand had one key thing in mind  – to keep people on twitter.

Very few people I know that are serious about twitter use the actual interface.  It allowed you to view your follower’s tweets in chronological order, but not much more than that.  Third party apps like Tweetdeck and HootSuite focused on monitoring your name, specific searches (such as #BTV for Burlington), and finally analytics.  This was a huge problem for twitter seeing they were providing a service, people were using it, but a majority users were staying off their main site using 3rd party applications.

How do these updates help you?

The engineers at twitter took all this in and reevaluated the design and functions of the site not only improving it’s design, but overhauling its usability.  Remember when you had to click the ‘more’ button to see additional tweets? Well, that is no more – you now have an infinite scroll.  Don’t try to get to the end because it won’t happen, it will continue to load older tweets one after another.  Looking at the big picture though they are now using more of your screen space to not  only display tweets, but to show you details about a specific tweet and more.  Now, when you hover over a tweet in your time line a arrow pointing to the right will appear allowing you to click the tweet and open details to

the right.  If you have any media included with your tweet that is supported by twitter like youtube, flickr, etc. they will display it in this area.  Also, it will break down your tweet further and show you who is mentioned and the past tweets by this specific person.  For those of you that like keyboard shortcuts, they have adopted the ways of Google and brought over shortcuts to do pretty much anything in twitter;  you can see some examples to the left.

A key thing you should remember as the majority of people get the new twitter is your background design.   Since the twitter interface is now wider it takes up more screen real estate, leaving only some of it for backgrounds.  This comes into play if you have backgrounds which contain contact information, staff directory etc. You have to make sure that all browser resolutions will be able to see your content.  The smaller the screen the less room you have to display your information on the left-hand side of your image.

Twitter is obviously heading in the right direction with all these updates, especially when they can now charge up to $100,000 for promoted tweets and trending topics.  If you’re not already, you can follow Union Street Media on twitter here:  @unionstmedia.