Earlier 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?
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:
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?
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.
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.