The hits and misses of Twitter's 2011 redesign

Twitter has overhauled its user experience on Twitter.com and across its apps. Here's a look at what they got right, what's still wrong, and some new problems that have been created.
Written by Jason Hiner, Editor in Chief on

Twitter recently overhauled and standardized its user experience across Twitter.com, the Android and iPhone Twitter apps, and the desktop power user app Tweetdeck. The company dubbed this the "Fly" redesign and after using the various pieces for a week I've come up with a quick list of the hits and misses.

I was highly critical of the 2010 Twitter redesign but I've written extensively about how Twitter can be useful for technologists and business professionals (see list of links at the bottom). There's more to like with the 2011 upgrade -- certainly the influence of returning co-founder Jack Dorsey is at work -- but there are also things that still haven't been fixed and some new problems that have been created.


  • Threading - The number one thing I mentioned in my article The two features Twitter should have been working on instead of #NewTwitter was message threading -- the ability to quickly and easily see all of the responses to a Twitter post (and the responses to the responses). With "Fly" you can now click on a tweet on Twitter.com and in the mobile apps and see all of the Replies, Retweets, and Favorites for a post. That works for me.
  • Interactions instead of mentions - Twitter used to just show you "Mentions," which included replies and other instances where someone mentioned your username (@jasonhiner, for example). However, the new column that has replaced Mentions is curiously called @Connect. In addition to mentions of your username, it now shows you when a post gets retweeted, when a post gets favorited, when you get new followers, and when someone adds you to a list. Twitter had been experimenting with this for a while, but made it the default in the new design. Interactions can get a little noisy, so there's also still the option to just see Mentions.
  • Standardized iPhone and Android apps - One of the worst things about Twitter was that the website, mobile website, tablet apps, and smartphone apps all had different features and interfaces. Twitter took a number of steps to unify this in the Fly redesign, but the best thing it did was to give the iPhone and Android apps the same overall design and experience, including integration of threading and the new @Connect feature.


  • Tweetdeck emasculation - While the Twitter.com and Android/iPhone apps were widely publicized, one of the lesser known updates that was done at the same time was the re-release of Tweetdeck, the popular desktop client that power users love. Twitter bought Tweetdeck earlier this year and had left it alone until now. The latest update simplifies the app greatly, but also makes it far less customizable, which is what power users want. As a result, I've back to the old Tweetdeck for now.
  • No more swipe-right in mobile apps - One of the nice features of the mobile apps on iPhone and Android was the ability to swipe-right on a tweet in order to favorite, retweet, or respond to it. This useful multitouch feature is gone now. You now have to tap the tweet and go into its full details in order to do any of these things. There was no good reason not to keep the swipe-right functionality.
  • Still no voting - Twitter still has not implemented voting so that you can "Like" or "+1" a post like you can on Facebook and Google+, respectively. There are a number of reasons that voting could be a huge benefit on Twitter, and I've talked about them in this post.

What else?

What other hits and misses do you see in the "Fly" redesign or #NewNewTwitter, as some people are calling it? Post your thoughts in the TalkBack section below.

Also read

This was originally published on TechRepublic.

Editorial standards