How to: Fix Twitter.

Twitter announced some big changes to its platform yesterday in the hopes that it will help boost the companies poor performance in the past few years. However, in my opinion, it’s just not enough.

Changes Are Coming

Over the next few months users will notice these changes on Twitter:

  • Polls & media directly uploaded to Twitter will not count towards the 140 character limit (links to non-Twitter content will still take up 22 of your 140 characters)
  • @usernames will not count towards the 140 character limit in reply tweets
  • Users will not longer need to put a “.” before they @mention someone in order for it to appear in other people’s timeline
  • Retweet or quote your own Tweets

Twitter, W@ Even Are You?

The problem is, Twitter still hasn’t exactly found its place yet. Is it a social network? Is it a news app? Is it a bit of both? If Twitter doesn’t know exactly what it is, how can it encourage more people to join the service and use it? And, if it can’t do that, how can it expect to ever make a growth?

I really enjoy using Twitter because I love the speed of it. In my opinion, Twitter is a place to follow what matters to you, in real time. So, maybe it is both a news app and social network. That’s ok, however, sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming.

Admittedly, this concept is quite broad, but I think Twitter needs to focus on making  it even easier for users to follow what matters to them. With Twitter you can access tweets about anything you care about, quickly, as they happen! That’s the key advantage it has over Facebook, Instagram and others, and I believe delivering this has always been their main goal.

How to do it?

Sure, there’s a lot of work that needs doing and this won’t fix everything, but my suggestion would be to make it easier for users separate the accounts they follow into lists which can be easily accessed from the main screen in the app. So, maybe Football, Politics, UK News, Friends, Professionals… whatever/whoever the user is interested in. Whether this is calculated automagically by Twitter, or if they make Twitter Lists easier to access and organise (like Google+ Circles, or Feedly groups).

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You should be able to swipe across from your timeline over to each of these lists (similar to how you can access different categories in the BBC News app), so that it’s easier for users to find what they want. Maybe a user is in the mood for just news from their favourite hobby or sports team, maybe they want to see Tweets from professional contacts in their field of work, or perhaps they just want to check up on their friends. By giving people an even easier way to organise and follow what they love, in real time, Twitter could increase users and engagement on the platform and this could give it the boost it needs. There are rumours that Facebook could be looking to release a similar feature, so it’s important Twitter does something quickly in order to keep a large audience who use the app to access the latest news on their favourite topics.

The real-time element in very important too, and I think that each of these feeds should be updated when the app is open without the need to pull down to refresh. Of course, however, it should do this without constantly moving the feed when you’re trying to scroll down it.

Twitter also needs to fully embrace Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) – the standard which loads news and blog content quicker on mobile. It could do this by adding the AMP API in its mobile apps, which would load AMP content (if possible), rather than sluggish regular websites which tend to load slowly on mobile devices. Facebook is already doing this with Instant Articles which load in-app. Twitter could perhaps go even further and add Android’s WebView to their Android app – which is like a mini in-app Chrome browser – to make this even faster and more fluid. An equivalent for iOS would also be excellent.

Essentially, this would make Twitter into a sort of modern RSS feed, which provides real-time, instantaneous results, as well as allowing for our ages participatory culture with discussion, likes, polls and retweets. This is a perfect for journalists, users and brands!

Twitter is constantly releasing new features and I hope they bring these ideas to their app as I feel they match the aims of the company to provide people with news and discussion as it happens, but meanwhile I’ll look forward to a material design makeover in their Android app. Maybe it’ll look a little something like this idea I put together when I was toying around with the new Adobe XD?

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