FriendFeed redesign - win; Twitter redesign - 'lipstick on a pig'?

Summary:Social networking got an extreme makeover yesterday when two very popular sites -- Twitter and Friendfeed -- introduced fresh new designs. While Twitter's redesign was slightly sprung on its users FriendFeed only surprised its users by going live with a beta that power users had been testing for some time.

Social networking got an extreme makeover yesterday when two very popular sites -- Twitter and Friendfeed -- introduced fresh new designs. While Twitter's redesign was slightly sprung on its users FriendFeed only surprised its users by going live with a beta that power users had been testing for some time.

A quick recap of the improvements:

Twitter:

  • Tab relocation
  • Deletion of redundant "archive" function
  • Ajax design for "improved speed"
  • New design customizer
  • Other general aesthetic improvements

FriendFeed:

  • Grouping functionality
  • Direct photo posting
  • View your friends' feeds the way they see them
  • Restructured sidebar (which switched sides)
  • Duplicate detection
  • Other general aesthetic improvements

While not at all scientific, I took a quick poll of both my networks on Twitter and FriendFeed to get feedback on the respective redesigns, and also spent a good amount of time reviewing the main feeds of each socnet to see what other users were saying. The majority of FriendFeed users appear to be satisfied with the feature improvements and remain fiercely loyal to the service. With Twitter, while some said the redesign is nicer, many users likened the improvements to a cosmetic change that didn't really affect them. Comments include:

Twitter's Evan Williams wrote in the Twitter Blog that the team recognizes that more improvements are needed and that users should not think that this is the end of the overhaul.

"This hardest thing about doing a redesign like this deciding what not to tackle. I'm fairly certain that much of the feedback to this will be, "What about...[your favorite feature request / annoyance]." Please be assured the changes we've made here aren't the only things we want to (or will) change. They're not even, necessarily, the most important. The scope of this project was limited to light-weight front-end work. We have whole other teams working on back-end changes and more fundamental functionality changes (which, as mentioned above, this is also laying the groundwork for)."

Unfortunately, Twitter users still remain skeptical; not sure if it's because the changes came as a surprise or if its users are just that much more hungry for the deep, back-end improvements to truly bring Twitter up to desired speed.

FriendFeed redesign - win; Twitter redesign - 'lipstick on a pig'?
On a side note, FriendFeed won additional points from its users when it changed itself over to "FrrriendFeed" and called its users "mateys" in observance of today's "Talk Like a Pirate Day." It even added some pirate themes to it's FriendFeed to Go (FFtoGo) mobile update service. Several users had already launched and were participating in a couple of pirate-themed memes, including changing their user names to be more pirate-esque and posting photos or videos of their pirate imitations. If you want to follow me over there and join us for some pirate speak I am currently "Walk the Plankifer Leggio."

What do YOU think of the new designs?

Update 9/19/08 8:16 a.m.: Stuart Robertson at Design Meme wrote about some CSS customization that the new Twitter design allows and posted a greasemonkey script for doing such.

Topics: Software Development, Browser, CXO, Enterprise Software, Piracy, Security, Social Enterprise

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