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Twitter Redesign: Cheers And Jeers

There's a lot to like about Twitter's revamped look, but many iPhone users dislike the official new Twitter client.
10 Smart Enterprise Uses For Twitter
10 Smart Enterprise Uses For Twitter
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Twitter users were beginning to get a taste of the new, new Twitter Friday, with some users of the iPhone app in particular voicing disappointment with the changes.

In a major redesign, Twitter on Thursday unveiled an overhaul of the navigation and organization of its website, mobile website, iPhone and Android apps, and TweetDeck desktop client.

Twitter said the aim of the redesign was simplification, as well as an emphasis on discovery of new and interesting content and contacts. This design shows the potential to be much more welcoming for new users. The integration of photos and video into the main stream of posts also promises to make the experience more engaging--looking a little more like Google+, only with a continued emphasis on the brevity of posts.

Today's twitter.com search results for #newnewtwitter or the official marketing department tag, #letsfly showed a mix of happy and unhappy posts--and a lot of people wondering (mostly eagerly) when the new Web interface would get turned on for their accounts. I can't tell you what I think of it just yet, as it hasn't been switched on for my account (a plea to Twitter's PR team went unanswered).

For many, the new Twitter experience showed up first on their phones, since the iPhone and Android clients were available for download immediately. For some iPhone users, this was not a happy thing. In a widely shared post, tech entrepreneur and blogger John Gruber made his review of Twitter 4 for iPhone a lament for the death of Tweetie, the iOS app Twitter acquired in 2010 as part of its push to gain more control over the Twitter user experience and potential revenue streams. Until now, Twitter had essentially renamed and upgraded Tweetie while leaving its best features intact, he wrote. Now, many of the things he loved about Tweetie are going away, in the name of delivering a consistent user interface that works almost the same as a native iPhone app as it does when viewed as an HTML5 Web application.

"The whole reason I prefer native apps is that I like experiences that far exceed what can be done in a Web app," Gruber wrote, later adding, "Twitter 4.0 for iPhone lacks the surprise, delight, and attention to detail of a deserving successor to Tweetie, offering instead a least common denominator experience that no one deserves." Having recently switched to using Tweetbot on his iPhone, he also worried that Twitter may get more aggressive at denying programmatic access to the website for third-party applications, limiting his options.

Brad Noble, founder and architect of PostPost, a Twitter search tool, said in an interview he was also seeing a lot of complaints about the disappearance of the search option in the iPhone client.

Prior to our call, Noble said in a note that he understood Twitter's intent of seeking to simplify the user interface "as it relates to how clearly the product connects users to the value it offers: valuable content from valuable voices." However, he did express a concern that Twitter not "disenfranchise those of us who love Twitter the way it is."

Friday morning, he had just gotten access to the new twitter.com web experience and was feeling relieved. "I'm actually excited about this," Noble said. "I don't feel they've undermined any of the things I like most about Twitter."

Noble said he believes the new Web experience will be most important in being easier to understand for new users, who are often bewildered by the structure and coding of posts and find it difficult to discover the topics that interest them most. "This is a big step forward in making Twitter's value more discoverable--I think it will make it easier for users new and old to discover Twitter's value," he said.

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard

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