In the world of microblogging, clearly Twitter is king. Twitter has gone through a few changes and transformations in it’s relatively short lifetime. Most recently Twitter became a publicly funded corporation and oddly they also redesign their website portal to be more content heavy, advertising-clutter focused, and definitely more “Facebook-like.” I suppose those ads need to go somewhere on the page, right investors? However, one thing about Twitter is constant, their concise 140 character snippets of sometimes very critical and other times unusually cryptic information.
For starters, the app is quite compact, clear and feels minimalist, although there is a lot in there. The icons are anything but generic, but still clear and easy to understand. Twitter’s iconographic and symbolic metaphors are apparent from the loading screen’s branding through to the iconography, and terminology used throughout the app.
The first thing the user encounters on the app are “Timelines.” These side-scrolling views or horizontal “pagination” screens allow users to view all incoming Tweets (home), Discover tweets (suggestions based on followers), and also view Activity relating to user’s posts (retweets, favourites, popular and trending tweets). Access to all of this great information in just three easy swipes. That is fantastic user interaction!
The user’s default “Timeline” shows tweets in chronological order, with the latest on top. Tapping or selecting a tweet will reveal a detail view and provide the ability to reply, retweet, or favourite a tweet as primary activities. Secondarily, the user is also able to report, mail, copy link to tweet, and add to the tweet to a reading list for future reference.
The app’s top-level navigation has a “Contacts” icon (page to add people, suggested follows, etc.); a “Search” icon and refine search functionality (page to search by #, term, entity, etc. and refine by photos, videos, people, etc.); and finally a “Write a post” icon (page to construct a tweet with a reverse counter, indicating the number of characters left before you reach 140). This is reverse counter not only indicative, but this character limit that has also become a unique identifier for the social network, as it supports the overall “bird tweet snippet” metaphor and more importantly is has become a memorable selling point for Twitter.
When writing a tweet, the app accesses the user’s phone and taps into the image library, allowing for the posting of archived images or the taking of a fresh photo for posting. This area will also allow the user to geolocate the post!
The app’s footer navigation has Timelines or a “Home” icon (page with timelines discussed earlier); a “Notifications” icon (page to view activity from other followers relating to the user’s tweets or account followers); a “Messages” icon (page to compose messages and facilitate direct communications between followers); and a “Me” icon (page to see the user’s profile page containing all of the user’s tweet activity in chronological order, latest on top).
The Twitter app is a truly remarkable experience. How can they squeeze in so much complex functionality in such little space and still allowing for a relatively easy-to-use app?