This post was written by Tim Croteau, a Fresh Tilled Soil Apprentice, in response to Challenge 1: Redesigning an Experience.
Twitter is used by millions of people every day (…hour…minute…), and its interface is clearly not a total trainwreck. That said, as an on-and off regular user, I’ve found there are plenty of quirks that make it a less-than-ideal tool for sharing and consuming content.
When looking at ways to address what I consider to be Twitter’s shortcomings, I looked to other social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Much like Twitter, they do plenty right, but also many things wrong; ultimately, I was trying to cherry-pick the best bits and pieces and weed out the less useful parts.
Overview of Goals
Ultimately, I wanted to make the main functions of Twitter – consuming, creating, and discovering content – as easy as possible. As such, I had a short list of focus areas:
- Integrate Lists with the main feed area in a more obvious way
- Keep the “Compose Tweet” area persistent regardless of where I am
- Centralize the primary navigation around the main feed area so I can quickly change the content of that space without having to look elsewhere on the page.
Lists allow users to categorize the feeds they follow into groups based on some set of criteria. In the current design, Lists are somewhat hidden under the Profile/Settings menu in the top right of the page. To better associate them with the main feed area, I’ve used a tabbed interface that allows users to quickly switch to other List views without having to navigate or even look away from the feed.
Persistent “Compose Tweet” Functionality
This one’s pretty straightforward: in the current design, the main area for writing a Tweet goes away to make room for secondary navigation under the Interactions and Discover areas. Those sub-navs have also been implemented as tabbed navigation over the main feed, allowing the Compose Tweet box to never move.
Centralizing the “Content Consumption” Tools
To keep the layout clearly broken up between writing and reading, I’ve moved the primary navigation so it lives above the main feed area on the right. This lets me quickly change my reading context with minimal mouse and eye movement. As a bonus “quality of life” fix, I’ve added notification counters to the Interactions tab, so that users are aware if there’s any new activity there to look at.
I’m actually quite pleased with how this turned out. In an actual implementation, I’d like to explore alternatives to tabs, as they can be limiting (multiple rows of tabs could potentially become brutal for users with more Lists), but otherwise, these changes seem sensible, and not an overly intrusive change for veteran users of the service. It certainly wasn’t an overhaul, as much as a minor reshuffling to prioritize what I’d consider the most important aspects of the service.