By: Hillel Fuld
I Just got the new Twitter and there is really no question that it is a huge improvement over the old one. Having said that, the comparison to the old Twitter is irrelevant, that is not what it is here to compete with. The new Twitter can and should only be compared to Twitter clients such as Tweetdeck and Seesmic. Since I am a huge Tweetdeck fan, I am going to talk about the experience the new Twitter provides as compared to that of Tweetdeck.
Bear in mind, I am writing this post approximately ten minutes after getting the new Twitter. What that means is that these issues were right in my face. They were all blatant disadvantages of the new Twitter interface as compared to Tweetdeck. I am sure as time passes, I will get used to some of these things and I will also encounter other things I do not like, but these are the first ten.
Also, it is important to emphasize that there are a lot of advantages to the Twitter web interface over Tweetdeck. For example, there are obviously no API issues such as API calls running out. However, the truth is, at least in the past, those accessing Twitter via the API were better off and had a more stable experience then those tweeting from the Web, which is down way too often. Other pluses of the Web interface are some nice keyboard shortcuts, and immediate access to people’s full profiles on the right side of your screen.
While all these are nice additions that if I had been comparing the new Twitter to the old one, would impress me, but since I need to choose between Tweetdeck and the Web, I will choose Tweetdeck. Here are ten reasons why:
- Reply to Multiple Tweets: This is not to be confused with the Reply All button. Imagine the following scenario. It is your birthday and you are getting tons of Twitter mentions wishing you a happy birthday. All you want to do is reply to all of those mentions with a Thank You. With the new Twitter you cannot do that. There is no way to reply to multiple tweets with one response. In Tweetdeck, it is simple. You hit Reply on one tweet then proceed to hit Reply on others. Each name is then added to your tweet, and all that is left to do is write your Thank You. This is something a lot of iPhone/iPad apps are missing too. The only one I know of that does this is Echofon, but I would except more from the official Twitter Web interface.
- Reply All: This is a no brainer and it’s missing. You are in the middle of a Twitter conversation with multiple people and you want to reply to all the people mentioned in a tweet. To my utter surprise, this option, which is found in all apps I have ever tried, mobile and Web, is not available on Twitter.com. Very very strange.
- No Enter: The new Twitter has some neat keyboard shortcuts, but I am wondering what good that does if you need to lift your hand off the keyboard and use your mouse every time you want to send a tweet. There is no Enter option to send, you need to press the Tweet button on the site. Is it just me or is that strange?
- No Columns: I know I am dreaming on this one but the first thing Twitter should have done when launching a new design that is to compete with apps, is enable columns. Tweetdeck is famous for this, but even Seesmic adopted it since it is the most effective way of consuming all the information in your Twitter stream. If I want to use Twitter.com full time, I would need to open a few windows; one for my replies, one for my lists, one for my DMs, etc etc. Why not just enable columns so all that information is easily accessible?
- DM Location: This is not a feature but rather a design issue. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that it took me almost a minute to locate my direct messages in the new Twitter. You will notice that there is an option on your profile to quickly access your mentions, your retweets, searches, and lists. DMs are obviously missing from there. The only way to access your messages is all the way on the top of the entire interface. I feel like there has to be a better way and I am just missing it, but no matter how much I search, I cannot seem to find it. Seems the only way to my DM inbox is on top next to Home and Profile. I am no Web designer, but I am a Twitter user and to me, that is just annoying.
- List Access: This is an absolute deal breaker as I wrote in my initial review of the new Twitter. I am not going to repeat this point, but in short, Twitter lists was the best feature Twitter ever released in my opinion. It enables heavy users to manage their Twitter streams efficiently and it changed the way I use Twitter drastically. When using Tweetdeck, I actually got rid of the All Friends column and replaced it with my list of my favorite people on Twitter. In the new Twitter, I can access my list, but it requires two clicks, and as compared to Tweetdeck’s zero clicks, that can get annoying. As I mentioned, I can open multiple windows, one of them being my list, but that is a work around that I do not feel a need to do since I have Tweetdeck.
- Old Retweet: How could I mention the disadvantages of Twitter.com without talking about this issue? This is not specific to the new Twitter, but I did sort of hope that with the new site, Twitter would come to their senses and enable the old style retweet. Looks like I am out of luck and there is no way to edit a retweet before sending, nor do these retweets appear in the person’s mentions. Both these issues defeat the purpose of retweeting a person beyond of course sharing their information with your followers.
- Add User Name to Tweet: I am going to get yelled at and called lazy for this one but imagine this scenario. Let’s say I want to thank Del Harvey for helping me get the new Twitter enabled (hypothetically speaking of course). I tweet the following: “Just wanted to thank…” There is no way to add Del’s Twitter name into that tweet. I actually need to manually write it out or reply to her and then add that text before her name. Seems pretty silly to me. Why can’t I reply to someone and have their name added to my Tweet box? Am I nuts here or is that unintuitive?
- Auto Complete: This is another deal breaker for me. I talk to hundreds of people on Twitter throughout the day and there is no way I can possibly remember how to write out each person’s name without error. In Tweetdeck, as I write @ a box pops up that completes the person’s name as I write it. I have grown accustomed to this important feature and it is something I look for in mobile apps as well. I think it is the least we can expect from Twitter.com and I am no developer but I cannot imagine this would be too difficult to implement. Bottom line, if I want to write someone a message on Twitter, I need to remember their exact spelling or I can open Tweetdeck and it will do it for me. What do you think is the better option?
- DMing: I am convinced I am missing something here but even if that is the case, if I can’t find this option, chances are other won’t either and that is a problem. How do I DM someone from their tweet? I can open their profile and click message but come on Twitter, how difficult is it to add another shortcut to DM someone directly? There is an M shortcut that opens up the box to direct message someone, but then we go back to the auto complete issue. There is no easy way to DM someone directly from their tweet or at least I have not found it yet. Pretty basic option and it is missing.
In conclusion, as I mentioned, these are my initial comments and there is a good chance I will find solutions to some of these issues. However, I am a big believer in simplicity and so were the developers of Twitter once upon a time. What I mean is that even if I do find the answer to some of the above questions, the fact that I could not find those options immediately is a problem.
All in all, this new interface is a step in the right direction. I will end off by saying that if the new Twitter is targeting new users, and its goal is to offer more functionality from the Web, then mission accomplished. However, if the new Twitter is intended to take people like myself away from Tweetdeck, Seesmic, or even the Web-based Hootsuite, well then, sorry to say but Twitter seems to have struck out, but there is always next inning in the form of the next version of Twitter.com.
What do you think of these issues? Am I nitpicking or are these real problems with the new Twitter? Please let me in the comments or reach out to me on Twitter.