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Twitter buys Tweetdeck, takes several steps backwards

Twitter buys Tweetdeck, takes several steps backwards

Tweetdeck 1 reviewEarlier this year, Twitter bought the Tweetdeck app for quite a sum of money. Tweetdeck was an application that improved the core functionality of Twitter in many ways, and gave users a desktop app to use that enabled a much-improved interface to Twitter. As Twitter users matured, they saw the need for applications to manage ever-increasing numbers of followers and followees, and Tweetdeck was one of the best ways to do it, with their pioneering multi-column interface that made sense of the Twitter firehose.

Tweetdeck was an Adobe Air application, and even though many people complained about that, today’s Tweetdeck (version 0.38.2) is mature and relatively stable and handles Twitter well. It’s the go-to desktop app for many, many people.

Not much had changed since Twitter bought them, until yesterday. Twitter finally released the 1.0 version of Tweetdeck.

Now, I’m an early adopter. I almost never complain about new applications or changes to beloved services. I’m not a “OMG FACEBOOK CHANGED” complainer, and I usually enjoy the changes that developers make to their applications. Whenever I have to get used to new ways of interacting with applications and services, I always try to operate with the assumption that the developers made these changes for a reason, and it’s a good one, and I should learn to adapt. It keeps me young.

I spend the majority of my working day in Tweetdeck. It is, next to my browser and email, the most important application I have. I was excited by the release of 1.0. Here we have the inventors of the service, taking over my favorite app and releasing what surely must be a top-notch experience.

Well, I tried… I really did. However, for now, I’m going back to the “old” Tweetdeck, which is a far superior version of the app. Allow me to use some pictures to explain why.

First of all, it could be argued that one of the reasons Twitter found so much success was because of its extremely simple primary interface. Much like Google, Twitter asks a single question to start with: What’s happening?

It then presents the user with a single primary choice to make: Type something in the box! Tweet! That opens the doors to the world of Twitter.

So, why then, would Twitter take the absolutely core, primary purpose of their entire service, and remove it from their application?

Tweetdeck review screenshot

Where do I ACTUALLY TWEET?

Now, I’m no developer, but that’s like UX 101: Removing the primary feature for your core application and hiding it behind a cute icon button seems absolutely counter-intuitive.

So, there’s no obvious way to Tweet from the main interface of the application. Fail one.

Now, one of the main reasons people move to Tweetdeck is that they’ve outgrown the Twitter web interface. They have hundreds or thousands of followers. They follow hundreds of people. They want a better way to get an at-a-glance view of their lists. Twitter implemented their lists feature to help manage this. It makes sense: categorize the people you follow so that you can manage your stream better. Easy-peasy!

In the old Tweetdeck, adding a user to a list was pretty easy:

add-a-user-to-list-tweetdeck

Adding a user to a list in the old Tweetdeck. Easy.

Tweetdeck's confusing icons

What do these do?

You just click on the user’s picture, and a series of menus give you options—one of them being “Add user to group/list”. Great! Done.

The new Tweetdeck just simply… eliminates that option. Besides making a confusing interface with inexplicable buttons. When you click on a user’s icon, you get a pop-up with a window full of user information. Not bad. It mentions the word “lists” twice: Once to show what lists THAT user has created (which is of questionable usefulness), and once to show what lists that user appears on. So far, nothing saying “add to list”.

So, let’s go to the inexplicable icons then… You can click “more” next to the user’s name (a second way to interact with a user. Makes no sense). This brings up a different pop-up. Is it the box with the arrow coming out of it, or the icon of a person with a downward-pointing arrow next to it. What do those even mean?

Tweetdeck confusing interface

There are two separate buttons that both pull up user options. Why?

One of the buttons brings up a list. I can “Tweet to” the user with this method (which makes no sense at all, you can do that from the main interface), block, report, message… but not add to a list. The other icon brings up a second list. I can “email status” or “create link”. What.

tweetdeck-confusing-interface-02

Sure. Create link.

So now, in order to add a user to a list, I have to exit the app and go to the web interface. Way to go, Tweetdeck.

I’m not a user who uses auto-fill, but that’s also missing. You also can’t tell Tweetdeck which account is your “Primary”. It takes them in the order you added them. I had to delete an account and re-add it to change the order of my default accounts. Scheduling tweets has become less intuitive. You can no longer change the color scheme. Pretty much everything has been dumbed down.

I’ve gone back to Tweetdeck 0.38.2 (you can download it here) because it feels like a major upgrade from Tweetdeck 1.0. When they fix the weirdness, improve the interface, and stop trying to dumb down what should be a professional application, I might switch back. Or when they force me to. Either way, I’m scratching my head over here trying to figure out the logic behind some of these changes.

Comments

  1. PirateNinja
    PirateNinja Have you tried metro twit? I was under impression it was the cat's ass of tweeter apps :)
  2. primesuspect
    primesuspect I have never heard of it. Checking it out now. Thanks for the heads up :)
  3. UPSLynx
    UPSLynx I haven't used the new Tweetdeck, but from everyone I follow that used it, I haven't heard a single positive thing about it. Pretty telling.

    Correct me if I'm wrong though - I'm not sure I get your first fail (a pretty button for where to type your tweet) On the 'old' Tweetdeck, there's a button that does just that - the input field is hidden until you click it.

    Is there a functionality difference in the new Tweedeck with this button? Does the button not open a proper text field?
  4. primesuspect
    primesuspect The old tweetdeck, you can choose to hide the interface window if you want; but by default, it's open. On the new Tweetdeck it opens a pop up window in the center of the screen.
  5. UPSLynx
    UPSLynx Ahhh, I see. My Tweetdeck has been configured for who knows how long to default to the text input area hidden from load.

    And a pop up window to write a tweet? ewww.
  6. primesuspect
    primesuspect Well I spent the evening with MetroTwit. It looks freaking gorgeous, very slick, very modern. I wish I could use it, but alas it also lacks easy list management.
  7. primesuspect
    primesuspect Also there's a giant annoying ad on the top of the main column.
  8. Tim
    Tim I have never twitter tweeted anyone. Ever. Do they still have the 140 character limit? That would get in my way a lot.
  9. CB
    CB The difference I've noted as sub-optimal is that the new version doesn't show you the entire thread of a conversation when you are replying to one of the tweets in the thread. The previous version did that. Otherwise, I'm just rolling with the differences. I probably don't use it intensively enough to notice most of the other changes (I've never used lists, for example)
  10. MiracleManS
    MiracleManS They've also changed the chrome app. Not seeing the person's handle really bothers me. Some of the people I followed I'm not particularly familiar with their names.

    Edit: At least here's a setting to change it, but I hate that it's the default.
  11. Michael Schertz I erased old tweetdeck ( not sure why ) can't stand the new tweetdeck. Can I re install the adobe air version or am I SOL
  12. primesuspect
    primesuspect You can still reinstall the old Tweetdeck
  13. primesuspect
    primesuspect Wow, I just realized that the old version is now pulled from their site and is very hard to find.

    Icrontic will host it. You can download Tweetdeck 0.38.2 here (AIR version).
  14. CB
    CB <blockquote>The difference I've noted as sub-optimal is that the new version doesn't show you the entire thread of a conversation when you are replying to one of the tweets in the thread. The previous version did that. Otherwise, I'm just rolling with the differences. I probably don't use it intensively enough to notice most of the other changes (I've never used lists, for example)</blockquote>

    However: My discovery today that I can clear a column of posts - an option I could never find in the old version - has turned me. I now prefer the new one. "These pipes are clean!"
  15. Thrax
  16. Jokke
    Jokke I guess I'm real old school running 0.37.6?
  17. CB
    CB
    Thrax wrote:
    Old version:

    w0Hhk.png

    Sorry, I should clarify. I use the Chrome app, which is (was) slightly different. It was when I switched from the desktop client to the Chrome app that the button disappeared for me.
  18. MiracleManS
    MiracleManS The chrome app is ok-ish, although the naming stuff still bothers me. I can't imagine being a power user and using it though.
  19. MiracleManS
    MiracleManS Ok, I would like to complain about something again.

    I've integrated facebook and used to be able to reply inline...now, nope. I see absolutely no way to append a reply to an individual's post from facebook.
  20. CB
    CB
    Ok, I would like to complain about something again.

    I've integrated facebook and used to be able to reply inline...now, nope. I see absolutely no way to append a reply to an individual's post from facebook.

    I hadn't noticed that until just a few minutes ago, that sucks.

    Also: I just found that the 'clear' button only worked once per column. It wont clear anything that has arrived since I first cleared the columns. :/
  21. ardichoke
    ardichoke Are we at all surprised they're breaking Facebook functionality? Now that Tweetdeck is owned by Twitter, I'd expect to see a lot more functionality for non-Twitter networks to be stripped out slowly but surely.

    As for me, I've switched to HootSuite. Way more functional and the UI is much better since they redesigned it. Also has the benefit of being a webapp so I can use it in Firefox which is nice since Chrome now throws errors on both my Windows boxes every time I launch it and I haven't been able to find any way to fix it.
  22. CB
    CB If someone makes a twitter, facebook, G+ integration (once Google makes it possible) I'll be switching like a boss, even if it's mostly crap.
  23. ardichoke
    ardichoke Agreed. Pity that Google designed G+ as a service instead of a platform. I read the rant one of their employees "accidentally" posted publicly and couldn't agree more.
  24. RyanVB Longtime user of TweetDeck, the new version loses every feature that made the old one a must-use app. Now TweetDeck is little better than the nearly useless web-interface for Twitter. Trying to manage thousands of followers just got much, much harder. Why Twitter decided that the people who use it the most should be punished for the service's success is beyond me. What's most galling about this is that the design and usability decisions clearly indicate that this app is the product of people who have never used Twitter in their lives - or who got an account while they had the contract to produce this dud and had 12 followers who were their family at home. What was a pro-level app is now just fluff and not useful to power users. But then again, we are sadly saying that so much about the Mac experience anymore, from the vinyl-rooftop look of Address Book to the silly paper paradigm circa 1982 of Calendar. It's all Jump the Shark.
  25. primesuspect
    primesuspect
    Longtime user of TweetDeck, the new version loses every feature that made the old one a must-use app. Now TweetDeck is little better than the nearly useless web-interface for Twitter. Trying to manage thousands of followers just got much, much harder. Why Twitter decided that the people who use it the most should be punished for the service's success is beyond me. What's most galling about this is that the design and usability decisions clearly indicate that this app is the product of people who have never used Twitter in their lives - or who got an account while they had the contract to produce this dud and had 12 followers who were their family at home. What was a pro-level app is now just fluff and not useful to power users. But then again, we are sadly saying that so much about the Mac experience anymore, from the vinyl-rooftop look of Address Book to the silly paper paradigm circa 1982 of Calendar. It's all Jump the Shark.
    Couldn't agree with you more.

  26. Ryder
    Ryder
    Wow, I just realized that the old version is now pulled from their site and is very hard to find.

    Icrontic will host it. You can download Tweetdeck 0.38.2 here (AIR version).
    File not found on the download :(

  27. Snarkasm
    Snarkasm BROKEN LINK! MIGRATION FAILURE!

    :p
  28. primesuspect
  29. primesuspect
    primesuspect I fixed the download link on Icrontic as well.
  30. fatcat
  31. primesuspect
  32. Necropolis
    Necropolis Thanks Prime. New tweetdeck is awful so glad you are hosting it here.
  33. primesuspect
    primesuspect Glad to help. Anything to get Necro posting is worth my time :D
  34. Necropolis
    Necropolis I will be trying to post a bit more. Just need to get used to this new layout....

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