The New Twitter: Better, But Power Users Still Need Clients

The New Twitter Interface

Twitter had to do something. Facebook’s incredible growth this year thanks to Open Graph (Like feature) has made it a top-tier web site, surpassing even Google for site visits. Facebook is even using Open Graph to compete with Google for search. To stay competitive, Twitter had to encourage more page views. Enter its new interface.

How does the new Twitter stack up to its old interface as well as desktop clients such as HootSuite, CoTweet, Seesmic and Tweetdeck? Very well, in my opinion.

The interface is very intuitive. There are lots of great features to take advantage of, including vastly improved Listing, semi-threading for response views, and DM capabilities (see Social Media Today piece). While it does not allow multiple columns like a Tweetdeck or Seesmic, it uses tabs above the main column to create fluid interaction. In this sense, I feel like its competitive and in some ways better.

The right column space is used for information, from user details to trends. This will only get better as Twitter adds a real time analytics feature to the mix.

As someone who still uses the web interface (yes, it’s true) for casual tweeting, it’s a vast improvement. As someone who switches over to Seesmic or Cotweet for business use (I like those two over the other services), I may still have to use these clients for specific Twitter uses, though I think less often. That means Twitter will get more page views from me, but not 100% of my Twitter attention.

In my opinion, the text entry itself is the weak point of the the New Twitter. On the positive side autotext name features in the main entry box is a great improvement. It makes social interaction easier.

However, you have to manually enter names instead of replying to multiple voices simultaneously with a singular click. Also, while promised, the new autoshortener is not present on the new interface, requiring a second web browser tab to or another shortening service. Twitter needs to roll out autoshortening as soon as possible if they want the interface to really take off.

In addition, the retweet feature does not allow for you to edit the tweet still, providing only auto repost to your feed. Lastly, you still cannot schedule Tweets, which is a feature I like for my photo of the day or busy days.

Conclusion: The new Twitter interface makes their information service/social network much easier and fun to use. Generally speaking, only power users and marketing accounts will have issues with the new interface.

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

If I was a desktop client that had to compete with Twitter, I would not be happy. This change is significant, and makes it difficult for these services to remain competitive.

Twitter’s Open API has been well hailed as a driver for businesses to develop on top of the client. However, as we have seen from Tweetmeme and mobile clients to the new desktop API, Twitter tends to cannibalize its most successful innovating third party developers.

In essence, Twitter development via the API makes you a minor league application which Twitter may opt for its own use, either through acquisition, compensation (a la Tweetmeme), or simply take ideas through copycat development. This approach may create a slow down in third-party development.