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Twitter: A Clusterfuck of UI Mistakes (ivanca.tumblr.com)
132 points by notgood on Sept 12, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 74 comments

The worst part about Twitter is finding context for tweets.

It happens so often that I'll stumble across a snarky response, want to know what that was about, but I just can't find a way to find the original tweet that this was obviously a response too. Sometimes clicking a tweet works, sometimes you can scroll up, but often that just doesn't work. Then I click on all the people who are mentioned in the tweet, try to find the context, see that they must have tweeted hundreds of tweets since then, and then I give up...

Click on the date. It'll reveal the thread.

Who doesn't love a discoverable UI, right?

Facebook's UI is really bad too. If someone links to an image it loads the page with the image, then a second or so later loads the same image in a modal. And if you try to click the image make it bigger it might just close the modal (that's not yet loaded) and take you to the person's timeline.

Also you can't navigate huge comment streams in Facebook. I always see some viral image with "xyz friend commented on this", click it and you just see the latest comments in the last 2 seconds.

this seems to only work well through the (iphone) app. accessing the website through chrome (or similar) shows the behavior you mentioned.

Certainly, Facebook has UI problems but I think there's more going on here.

The thing about the Twitter UI isn't just that it's awkward or ugly but that it makes the platform itself itself bad - bad as in making-the-world-a-worse-place bad.

When people can't ignore references to themselves, when they can only reply with short retorts, it turns Twitter into the shallow, ugly, uncivil platform that it currently is.

Or you just make a funny joke and get bored of getting 'lol,' reply notifications you reconsider making such awesome content

> bad as in making-the-world-a-worse-place bad

I think you could say that about twitter itself, not just the UI.

Yes. But this is only cosmetic. My biggest problem is that when scrolling a timeline, clicking on something, then clicking back, does not take me to the same position in the timeline.

Wikipedia currently has a similarly annoying UX. If you click on an image, then copy/paste the link to someone else to open, it first loads the article you clicked on the image from, then a modal of the image.

Oh yeah that's annoying. And when you close it they push a new history state so if you hit back the modal opens again. Personally I think modals shouldn't be a URL. If you want it to be a permalink then make it a standalone page.

IMHO, it should pushState a proper URL to the image, then history.back() to close it.

The image modal can be disabled by the settings on the right of the modal.

IMO, both Facebook and Twitter are just victims of the trend of using the web browser as a full-blown application platform.

Not only that, in my workflow I keep FB in the first Safari tab and open every story in other tabs, only to find out closing FB ruins every open outside link!

I have tried to read Twitter a couple of times, but I fail every time and I stopped. For example I'd go to the page of someone like Neil deGrasse Tyson or Richard Dawkins to see what they post, but I see heaps of retweets and answers and general noise and chit-chat totally out of any context. I'd like to see the original tweets by them, but it seems there's no such functionality. Or to sort them by "popularity" or date or something. Nope, can't be done.

> Neil deGrasse Tyson or Richard Dawkins

Twitter actually ruined my opinion on these individuals.

Neil deGrasse Tyson writing smug bitchy tweets about slight inaccuracies in Hollywood sci-fi movies. Painted him in an entirely different light to me

Richard Dawkins tweet after tweet of him just arguing with stupid trolls, you're supposed to be a respected academic yet here you are wrestling pigs in the mud because for some reason you feel you have to win every argument.

> Neil deGrasse Tyson writing smug bitchy tweets about slight inaccuracies in Hollywood sci-fi movies.

Are you new to the Internet? Because Tyson is hardly an outlier.

I'm not familiar with Tyson's Twitter feed, but I've noticed that lots of playful critiques are interpreted as joyless and pedantic.

The YouTube channel CinemaSins comes to mind--various filmmakers (using Twitter) have attacked CinemaSins of vicious nitpicking, even though that's the whole point of the series. Tyson even did some recordings for various episodes and he seemed fairly understanding and good-natured about the flaws he exposed.

Again, I'm not familar with the tweets in question, but I just felt like pointing out that sometimes people interpret ALL criticism as a malicious act even when it's dispassionate or tongue-in-cheek.

> Richard Dawkins tweet after tweet of him just arguing with stupid trolls, you're supposed to be a respected academic yet here you are wrestling pigs in the mud because for some reason you feel you have to win every argument.

The world is full of "stupid trolls". If you ignore them bizarre things would happen like people starting to believe AGAIN that the world is flat.

I think that there are enough of internet warriors that someone like Dawkins doesn't have to involve in those arguments.

Also making someone change his mind on the internet most of the times is close to impossible, so it's usually pointless.

It's not only that. People making searches can end up finding those tweets. If the only thing that they see is the wrong statement of trolls, they can think that those statements are true. On internet, repetition is assumed as real so if only the wrong things are repeated, then people will accept them as truth.

That's how Dawkins treats his career as a fundamentalist atheist.

I used to think that I just didn't understand how you're meant to use twitter. I found it totally unusable. Turns out that it wasn't my own shortcoming, it really is unusable. That said, I still don't understand what the experience is for someone who actually has an account.

I don't know how long it's had it (because I don't use the web UI), but it now has separate views for "Tweets" and "Tweets and Replies".

One of the worst bugs with twitter webpage is this. When scrolling down to check overnight tweets on the timeline, and when you have scrolled hundreds of them and you click a regular tweet or a quoted tweet to check responses etc (thankfully quoted tweet opens as a popup lately; it used to open a different page earlier causing pissed_level++) and dismiss the popup, the feed is scrolled back up to the top, and to add to the misery, the tweets in the waiting will be expanded too. You would have to be a regular user of twitter in order to make sense of this and/or empathize.

I don't think this is a bug. In the endless quest for eyeballs, they must keep your attention trained on the latest thing. Long attention spans lead to reading articles offsite, and that would reduce eyeball capture...

Am I being too cynical here?

It probably begins as a bug, but left it there by the reasons you mentioned. Or saw it as good enough and doesn't care about users who wants to know more than what happened in the last day/week/month.

I think you just gave a solid reason for the dev team to close the bug as "won't fix"/"not a bug" and that with the backing of the marketing team.

What I don't understand is, how is it possible to have so many widely known designers working for them but have no impact on the core product used by the majority of the users, it's really baffling to me. Anyone care to shed some light?

This - I often wonder what they hell they are doing all day. Maybe when they first joined they thought they could change things and did solid work, but after it becomes clear that no one is going to change anything, do you just using your time for freelance work?

Another thing I am very confused by is that there is no preview for a tweet. If I wanted to upload a picture, it's unclear how big the pic will appear. Many times I will upload a picture, then post it and see that it's MASSIVE and then immediately delete the tweet. I guess nobody uses the web interface to twitter?

That's OK, because the web interface resizes everything to the same size. It's unreasonably hard to click through to a fullscreen "just the jpg ma'am" view.

Are you saying the web interface resizes all images to the same size? It doesn't, that's my point.

The web interface for reading tweets puts everything in "cards", so regardless of the size when you uploaded it it gets resized into the card on display. Unless you right-click-view-image.

(Just realised - do you mean size in bytes or size in pixels?)

Twitter's UI is quite good in fact; it does a solid job of supporting the site's core design purpose as a mostly write-only platform for achieving and sustaining Internet celebrity. I don't really understand what all the fuss is about.

I'd argue that you'd call any UI "quite good" after getting used to them. I remember that my first steps with Twitter feel terrible and actually that is sometimes still in the case after browsing it for a longer while.

That's kind of the joke. It's not sold as being a megaphone, but when you try to actually use it, you discover that's the only thing it manages not to be terrible at.

I wonder if this is a consequence of the modern, "user-story-driven" style of UI development.

I'd claim that, back then, when UI design was considered less important, most UIs were either essentially random - or organized around the manipulation of "virtual objects" that conveniently mapped to the underlying data structures. (Files and folders, emails, DB entities, ...)

Some of that resulted in you getting a sort of UI consistency "for free", simply because the data structure had to be consistent. So you'd offer the "natural" actions for an object to the user (mostly CRUD) without thinking much which use-cases these actions were fulfilling.

In contrast, modern UI design seems to be driven less by abstractions and more by a priority-ordered list of individual use-cases. One consequence of this is that certain features can be missing even though you'd reasonable expect then to be there - because the use-case wasn't decided to be important enough.

The biggest UI flaw for me is the picture view on the mobile Twitter-page.

They decided to replace the normal .jpg-link with a custom page, but this custom page is auto-fitted to the screen-width, meaning that you cannot actually zoom in on the picture.

I'm not sure you can even do that on desktop Twitter: if you can, I've never found a way to do so. I always end up right-clicking 'Open in new tab' instead.

Yes, this is very annoying indeed. Especially if people post comics or images with lots of detail: there's no way to get the full picture. The only way i know is right clicking and selecting 'open image in new tab', which is a hack.

If you think the general UI of Twitter is awful, try using it as a media organisation. There's no easy way to share a single account with sharing a password as well, leading to people hijacking the account. Uploading videos is painfully slow, especially if you're used to the speed of YouTube and Facebook. The 'analytics' Twitter provides for videos is a joke: it doesn't show you the tweet attached to your video, so you only get a thumbnail and the name of your account. No way to filter or sort that list as well though.

I think many companies would happily fork over $100 per month to Twitter to have a 'media dashboard' that is as easy to use as the one from Facebook.

Have you tried tweetdeck (http://tweetdeck.twitter.com)? It allows to share an account without disclosing its password.

Yeah, i know Tweetdeck does that. But then everyone needs to use Tweetdeck, which doesn't have apps on mobile.

Twitter's UI is not just annoying, but it makes it difficult for users to onboard. Most new users are at conferences, watch TV shows, etc... and want to follow a hashtag and see it live.

Now... what is a good way for a new user to do this without overload? I haven't found a good way to explain this without using Tweetdeck and even then it often feels like a terminal command gone loose.

Yup, that's why I don't use twitter much. With a 3-character user handle I get a constant stream of totally unrelated mentions from all over the world. Mostly it's users not understanding the difference between @ and # or not getting that usernames on twitter can't have spaces, e.g. @Bob Smith will reach @bob, @bob_smith will never see the tweet.

Recently I found out the harsh effect of this missing feature. I tweeted a quick video showing a defective product to a retailer. Several moments later I saw I had 50 notifications and it didn't stop.

I was the target for online bullying and abuse, notably because those people appear to be haters of the retailer. How effective this was is actually quite fascinating.

I had to go through each notification and block each account that interacted. I even deleted the original tweet, and those they picked on I previously sent.

This was a classic case of bullying, but I do feel the tools were definitely lacking to mute it.

People don't realize how it looks on the receiving end. A person @ name searching you will only see tweets, then add on to the flood with "well it's only a few tweets, how is this harassment?". They don't see the flood of retweet/favorite notifications from those mentions.

I had this happen not too long ago when a comedian misunderstood something I said and went on a very public rant at me: https://medium.com/@RileyKyeden/jen-kirkman-is-your-problema...

It was only a few tweets, but it produced hundreds of notifications from the original tweets, replies to quote retweets[1] (and favorite/retweet notifications on those), and replies from other famous people whose feeds are watched closely by fans.

[1] https://twitter.com/twitter/status/742749353689780224

Yep, I can totally emphasise what you went though and it's very hard to put under control.

> This is probably the most embarrassing feature missing on twitter, meaning the inability to click a notification and hide it

What would you do with ad? Probably hide it as so would do 95% of other twitter users? Sure, this would be sane behavior for me and a vast majority, but not good for the twitter sales department which is likely to have a hard time anyway.

that has nothing to do with what is discussed.

Person with 100k followers accidentally @mentions you. For the next month, your notifications tab will be filled with people retweeting and replying to that tweet. And then random notifications every couple weeks for years related to that tweet.

This has nothing to do with ads.

Twitter has also recently started going to greater lengths to lock up images, videos and other media. It used to be easy to download them, now it's next to impossible on mobile and a hassle on desktop.

Yep, I have quite a common name, and my twitter handle is my full name. I grabbed this in 2007, so not too early but early enough.

Quite often I get mismentioned, and sometimes if someone big mentions me, Tweetdeck breaks :(.

Twitter has had a serious UX problem for ages. I would love to really understand how their UX team functions and the chain of command that led to such a very bad experience.

This is what happens when the user is not the customer.

It's not just an issue with Twitter. Every time someone visits Canada's Wonderland I get tagged in an Instagram photo.

What's the difference between @foo and #foo? Enough said.

@foo refers to a user and #foo to a topic. What's the problem?

Seems the problem might be a lack of understanding that @ and # are two different characters that might have different meanings.

Kind of like how + and - have different meanings, complete opposites actually, but people just get them confused all the time.

I think that flushandforget's point was that not he or she, but the vast majority of users, do not recognise (or do not behave as if they recognise) the difference.

Why is twitter still a thing?

It adds no value to my life and is basically a glorified gossip rag at this point.

I am in opposite thinking, that they have great UI, but sure everything can be improved

"Hello green username."

So are UIs of Reddit, Facebook, Craigslist, Amazon, ... a bad, usable UI that people are used to > an academic good UI, that nobody understands/uses.

Ranting about bad UIs reminds me a bit of ranting about tabloids. They are obviously bad, and nobody reads them if asked, but that does not change the fact that they are very popular.

(Please don't use bad UIs as a template if you start fresh, minimalistic is OK)

Twitter has way worse UI than Reddit or Amazon. It's flashy and barely functional, as opposed to crude but extremely functional. Whereas reddit pages load instantly, any Twitter page is a 10 megabytes-sized blob of Javascript that slows your browser to a crawl.

Reddit is working hard to catch up to Twitter. Have you tried their new mobile site? It's the worst user experience I've encountered in quite a while.

When I go to any page on the site, I get a blank page with an alien in the middle. Quite some time later, the content actually loads. If I tap a link and then go back, it goes through this all over again - and then it doesn't go back to the same scroll position but some arbitrary place.

Finally I found a menu option that let me get the desktop Reddit site. I kept trying Chrome's "Request desktop site" but it didn't work. Turned out I had to use a setting in the Reddit mobile site's own menu for this.

The desktop site is a huge improvement, but with major flaws of its own. The font sizing on mobile is fairly ridiculous - huge page titles and minuscule comment/etc. links - but at least the pages load fast and it behaves like a normal website.

What in the world are they thinking with this new mobile site? If they only fixed up the font sizing in the desktop site it would be perfectly usable on mobile - and much better than their mobile version.

Yeah, I'm not too happy with the new mobile version of Reddit. I still use the compact view [1] on my phone, which works fine for everything except moderation. On my tablet I just use the desktop view.

[1] http://reddit.com/.compact

I really hope those changes Reddit does are because they're evil and want to track us and spy on us with shit ton of JavaScript. The alternative to that is too horrible to consider - that they may have no fucking clue what they're doing, and like everyone else they're just cargo-culting the current web industry bullshit "standard practices".

I find Reddit so utterly unusable that I don't even have an account. Visiting a Reddit page, all I see is confusing tumble of interface: I can't distinguish content from controls, one level of reply from another, useful content is drowned out by "me too" and "snark". The mobile interface uses text sizing that is too small to read on my device (with my eyesight).

An 'academically good UI' should be easy to understand. Sure, that doesn't mean people will use it, but the ability of users to understand the UI is pretty fundamental - if they can't understand it, the UI is not 'academically good'.

Some places like Craigslist choose to maintain their rougher UI, since a slick UI will scare off some users.

But other than Reddit, Facebook or Amazon, Twitter does seem to have a growth problem.

I'm not a user and I don't think that I have strong feelings about their service but if forced to visit their page I'm confused most of the time.

A bad UI that can't be excused by success ist just a plain, bad UI.

Maybe I'm the reverse case, but I really, really like Twitter's UI. Especially their newly redone mobile UI.

While Facebook is now completely unusable on my phone, and Reddit is very close (an example of too-much-JS-gone-wrong), going on Twitter is a blast of minty fresh air at my fingertips.

> a bad, usable UI

But Twitter's UI is barely usable. It's not possible to search my past tweets, or someone else's past tweets, for one example.

That alone turns twitter from being a useful tool to share information into being a trivial app to share ephemeral nonsense.

What's wrong with Twitter's search page? To me it seems to do everything one might want. https://twitter.com/search-advanced

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