Twitter Does Not Speak UX

Tipping Water Bucket

So it gets only one tweet a week now.

[Update]: Twitter gets more than a weekly tweet from me as it has somewhat slowed its course of reinventing Twitter. However, it is a company trying to be sold now and that might not be a good sign. A strong product leader is needed who “gets” Twitter and can define it.

Twitter continues to dabble with the idea that it might change the core feature of what makes Twitter stand out from Facebook – the reverse chronological display of tweets.

Twitter Is Monkeying Around With The Order Of Tweets In Your Timeline

As the company chases new users, it becomes increasingly clear that Twitter does not speak the language of good UX (User Experience).

In the past, I've written about the UX deficiencies of its official app as it struggles to attract users, but today I simply smile and SMH at Twitter's failure to keep users happy. It has become the 2 year old waddling after birds on the ground, trying to touch one before they all just fly away.

Good UX tries to keep users happy. As Twitter A/B tests any idea that might get more users on board, it shows that it doesn't respect its current users who are fed up with being part of endless A/B tests that rattle their enjoyment of the product.

Today, Twitter thinks that using an algorithm to display tweets in some relevant order of its choosing might be better than showing them in reverse chronological order. The problem though is:

  • People don't want another Facebook. Facebooking Twitter is a very weak and misguided product path.

  • Reverse Chronological display is why we use Twitter.

  • Twitter is making current users angry. Type the phrase “Twitter reverse chronological” in Twitter Search and see how many people are angry over this test – and it's only a test right now.

You will see us continue to question our reverse chronological timeline, and all the work it takes to build one by finding and following accounts, through experiences like ‘while you were away’. We continue to show a questioning of our fundamentals in order to make the product easier and more accessible to more people. ~ Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO

Translation: We don't understand our product and don't mind ticking off our current users.

Weak product leadership relies on data (often misinterpreted) from endless A/B testing that puts users into two different buckets to test out product changes.

Strong product leadership knows what not to test because it would upset users it needs to keep and rarely subjects real users to controversial new ideas every few weeks. Users tire of becoming guinea pigs.

A strong leader knows what lines not to cross because s(h)e knows the product inside and out as well as the people who use it.

Good UX is a compass that guides a company in every facet of a product decision. It's not even that complicated, but yet so many companies struggle with it.

Even though I personally use Twitter from a 3rd party client (Tweetbot) and am somewhat protected from these endless Twitter tests and recent UX blunders, it becomes harder for me to support a company that doesn't speak good UX.

For now, I'll just tweet once a week until Twitter abandons their current test or officially rolls it out. If Twitter nixes the reverse chronological display of tweets in order to be more like Facebook, I'll stop tweeting completely.

I know that Twitter has a UX team, but I appeal to management to empower it and help it and the board understand why speaking UX is important. Risking current users for possibly a few new ones is the wrong path that ends up being more costly.

You may say that I'm just a power-user or the wrong demographic. Recall what happened to Google+ when it failed to hear its users?

Right now, Twitter will simply lose my daily tweets – not even a drop in the bucket of usage data. Yet, drops add up and eventually tip the bucket as fed up users leave in mass.

Eventually, a few might even discover that Ello exists as a network alternative not tied to ad-tech and one that supports user respect (in addition to Markdown).

Chasing users to alternatives is usually not a good product path, Twitter.

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