Twitter Today it is opening applications for its new trial program, first announced at CES in January. The program can potentially cover any aspect of the Twitter experience, but the first set of tests will focus on how interactions between people, and specifically responses, appear on Twitter.
They will include a new response layout to make it easier to follow a conversation; rounded shapes in reply tweets; scripts to follow the answers; hide engagement and share behind a tap to highlight the content of responses; and the introduction of colors to add more context.
When we saw the beta application in January, we saw the characteristics of these features from the beginning; Read on to learn more about all the features.
Improving the appearance of how Twitter works is a difficult task, to say the least. Many have pointed out, and the company now admits, that the back and forth tweets are too difficult to follow. Since the main premise of Twitter is that of a platform for conversations, that not only limits the usefulness of the product, but potentially also stops newcomers.
These issues recently came to a head when Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey himself attempted to participate in a tweet-based interview with journalist Kara Swisher. As their conversation continued, Twitter’s flaws on this front were clearly showing. Despite the use of a public hashtag, people were confused as to how to track the reporter’s questions and @Jack’s responses.
“This thread was tough,” Dorsey tweeted at the end of the interview. “I need to make this feel a lot more cohesive and easier to follow.”
While interviews with top tech executives aren’t an everyday occurrence on Twitter (yet?), Longer conversations with chain replies are, and perhaps have become even more frequent after Twitter doubled its character count. from 140 to 280 at the end of 2017. The change allowed people to share their expanded thoughts with more nuances, which in turn elicited more thoughtful responses.
Around the same time, Twitter turned “tweet storms” into an official product, allowing people to send a series of connected thoughts, each inviting its own series of related responses.
With all these changes, keeping track of the increasing number of round trips has become too complex, especially when a conversation has many participants.
That is the problem that the new testing program aims to better understand and ultimately solve.
“It’s a new way of thinking about product development,” Sara Haider, Twitter’s director of product management, said in an interview in January. “One of the reasons this is so important for this particular feature is because we know that we are making changes that are quite significant.”
Within a separate and independent application, the company will launch experiments that will allow the Twitter community to participate more directly in the early development process. At launch, that means fixing conversations. But over time, Twitter intends to use this platform to test new ideas before they reach the public product.
Chat pinning could be one of the biggest changes to Twitter to date, he noted, which is why it’s critical for the company to get it right.
“We need you to be part of this process, so we know that we are building the right experience,” Haider said.
Above: building development at CES; The new product will look different, we are told
Like the TechCrunch version previewed in January, the Twitter prototype to be released soon will feature a completely new design for Responses in which conversations are rounded in shape, more like a conversation, and are indented to make them more easy to follow. It won’t be my first time trying, but the softer edges seem to look more human.
The company is not sharing images yet, but says it can be imagined that Responses are more like conversations you see in Direct Messages, that is, they are more rounded, but they are not exactly speech bubbles.
Commitments, sharing options, and other tweet details, meanwhile, will also be hidden from view to further simplify things. You’ll have to tap the tweets to see them, says Twitter. Again, the goal here will be to put more emphasis on what is being said, not act on it. This is really an interesting change, as so much on social media has been focused on engagement. Now, Twitter is going to see if eliminating some of those engagement nudges will keep people going longer.
Above: Compromises are hidden in development build seen at CES
Doing color-coded conversations to highlight the original poster tweets, as well as the tweets of the people you follow, is a straightforward game to give the reader more visual clues of a conversation.
“Reader” could be the keyword here. One of Twitter’s big problems with conversations is that they can get too loud when too many people are engaging. A solution could also be to think about how it could be limited, either so that only certain responses are seen (which is something Twitter is already doing to some extent, putting the responses of the people you follow at the top), or perhaps so that not all people can respond, an idea that the CEO himself has joked as a possibility.Both position Twitter as a reading experience in the first place, not an engagement in the first place, which is why it is so important to make the answers are easier to read
In the development version we saw last month, those colors were too saturated for testing purposes. On the prototype, they have been marked down. Now the people you follow will be in blue and the responses on the original poster will be gray.
The answer highlight is now just a shadow line across the answer, as opposed to the full answer which is colored in, Twitter tells us.
The company says it will only accept a couple thousand testers into the beta program. But unlike previous beta programs, testers are not under NDA. Instead, they are encouraged to tweet about the test and discuss the changes with the wider Twitter community so that more people can have their thoughts.
Additionally, testers will be able to submit comments via a closed form or they can simply tweet to the Twitter teams.
The tweet-and-reply system has been a thorn in the side of Twitter for years. Because Twitter was originally designed as an SMS-like platform, you never anticipated how it would evolve into the discussion platform that it has become today.
The company has tried in vain to figure out how to make things simple for users for years. For example, you added connecting lines between tweets and replies, made @usernames in replies part of the tweet’s metadata, and even changed the Reply icon. Recently, he also added an “original tweeter” badge to conversation threads.
The company says it will primarily invite English and Japanese speakers to the testing program. Participants must follow the Twitter Rules to be invited. However, they don’t necessarily have to be long-time Twitter users. In fact, the company tells TechCrunch that its goal is to have a range of people involved, from those who don’t use Twitter often to those who use it consistently.
Those interested in applying to the beta version can do so from the tweet published by the @TwitterSupport account or they can use this link. If they are accepted, users will receive an email informing them of the next steps.