Twitter Workshops Potential New Features with Requests for User Input

Twitter has a few design tweaks in the works, and is slowly experimenting with releasing them to users.

They’re currently asking for feedback on these mock-ups, which play with the format of Twitter replies in the hope of emphasizing tweet engagement.

 

Here are the three main variants the platform is playing with:

  • Green dots on profile images, à la Facebook Messenger, within chains to indicate when a user is online.

  • Threaded replies to individual responses, which would make it easier to track who is responding to what within reply chains

  • Color coding that indicates the original post, the key replies, and your own interactions.

Twitter product manager Sara Haider posted the mock-ups with a request for user notes,

and the Twittersphere delivered several other potential options and additions to the platform, including:

  • Adding typing indicators to show engagement

  • Adding visible timestamps on replies in chains

  • Making replies scrollable, as the original tweet remains pinned at the top of the chain for easier context

  • Making replies collapsible a la Youtube comments

  • Changing the “Tweet your reply” prompt to “Join the conversation” in chains

 

This attempt on the part of the Twitter higher-ups to boost engagement are interesting, as they provide some insight into what Twitter creators want to see for the platform.

Without a doubt, a reorganization of the Twitter reply format will help with clarity. Forum-style nesting of replies been shown to work just fine in places like Reddit, and the mock-ups look neatly done. This is not the first effort the platform has made to make things more organized-- Twitter started grouping replies to tweets together in June 2015. In December, it launched a feature that lets users thread their own tweets.

The introduction of the “Presence” feature has made a lot of users wary.

"Knowing when someone is online will have much bigger negative effects than positive ones," user Charles Arthur tweeted in response to Haider's post. "Pile-ons, targeted attacks, all that sort of stuff. Twitter works best because it's asynchronous. It's not your 'friends' like Messenger."

Clearly, there are a range of things to consider here, but consulting with users before rolling out changes like these is a good move. While it may not actually accept any recommendations from them on this topic, it still addresses the complaint often lodged against Twitter that it’s not listening to its users. Even if Twitter goes ahead with whatever changes they liked, they may still be able to quell grievances later since they opened the discussion up to public comment beforehand. And we can likely expect at least some of these mock-ups to make it into real changes-- if they’re being workshopped to the public, they’re probably most of the way through development. Unless they encounter a really obvious flaw they hadn’t thought of, we’ll likely see alterations to the structure of Twitter’s user interface very soon.

 

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TRENDSMaria Vasbotten