Unforced errors, the plague of some sports. And the curse of some of the best athletes in the world.
You guys know about tennis, right? The epic battles that Federer, Nadal or Djokovic fight for long hours. Followed by addicts on courts stuffed with miscellaneous humanity for felt eternities. To watch a ball smack back and forth. And back again. Over a net. With some limited drama, because emotions are – well – not in line. The Queen may not be amused, that kind of thing.
Now, if that game is a senseless waste of time or not is beside the point for this blog and post. What I do find interesting, though, is that those top players still suffer from, what is commonly called – unforced errors. And who can blame them? After many hours of total concentration, one of them will miss a shot. And – wham – the ball bounces off the net. Or flies into the blue yonder.
Well, sports are not the only area for unforced errors.
It also happens in social networks. Twitter recently produced one of those infamous own goals.
You know, Jack Dorsey’s network, the one who keeps the account of The Chosen One (aka The Donald) alive. Despite all the lying, bluster, bullying and other brutalities. But hey, millions of tweets are at stake, so – gosh – one must suffer the insufferable.
As of mid-July 2019, Twitter redesigned the look and feel of their desktop layout.
And – like it or not – it is here to stay. That’s at least what Jack’s minions announced, and I do believe them. The new layout now resembles the phone app Twitter had for a while. The one where you never know where the fuck all that stuff is.
So, now we get the pleasures of an already ill-conceived smartphone app delivered straight to our desktops. Which is groovy, only that the old outline worked just fine, no complaints.
And that, my dear folks at the mighty Twitter service, is one of those infamous unforced errors.
To slam phone apps on desktop designs always looks awkward, to say the least. And those are never very functional. Ain’t it, Instagram? Albeit that the latter built some policy-driven complicators in on purpose. But you get the gist.
And can we live with Twitter’s new design?
Sigh, yes! We will have to.
It is understandable that the service needs to do changes under the hood after some 7 years. But the user interface is one of those typical don’t-fix-if-not-broken disasters. Together with Twitter’s desire to upend the business of counting likes and shares for their customers. And the more recent hiding of the likes on the tool itself, makes me wonder where this social network is heading.
This comes on top of the questionable decision to increase tweets to 280 characters not so long ago. It – for sure – will give the bullies of public interest more space to hate, I guess. And to opportunists like RMR, it provides a chance to slam more hashtags onto a message. There you go, we have something for everybody.
Ain’t that cool?
So, what have we really got?
At first, you notice lots of large characters that sit straight on vast expanses of white real estate. So much waste of space that could be filled with useful data, like immediate and easily understandable statistics, for instance.
You’ll also notice that your carefully selected channel art and profile picture disappeared from view. And you get that generic stream only that will never tell you how your channel might look on the internet. Short of going through a different browser and looking at your own profile. Which is not a good use of your management time.
But more to that later.
To the left.
True, the tool mimics a three-column website design. So, the left column contains your controls.
Apart from the obvious choices, you might want to head over to the ‘# Explore’ button. This is actually one useful feature that might generate insight for you.
Apart from that, you will find your profile as well. Complete with your art and pictures. This is confusing. But – as it turns out – does reflect how your layout will actually look like. It is beyond me why on earth Twitter saw the need to hide this there. Unless they want to further curtail the possibilities to customize further down the road.
So, where are the friggin’ stats?
Well, open the ‘More’ tab. That’s where, and it is not well done. That’s just further complication to get to data you will actually need to spiff up your account.
To your right.
Now here’s to some significant debate of rampant usefulness. Or lack thereof.
The right sidebar gets you what Twitter believes is trending for YOU. And who you should follow.
Yeah. Thanks, but no thanks.
The trending tool even has one of those little buttons that should allow you to streamline what you see. Only, there’s a single option in there. And it gives you trends based on your geography, despite the fact that you tell the tool to show trends as per interest. So, now I changed the location to Mars, Moon, and Earth – just for fun. Let’s see what happens.
Yet, looking at these trends, methinks that the Twitter app is yet another internet spy, like so many others. One that will check out your preferences on any other device. Even those not connected to this twitter account. And then the tool will give you results based on these findings, but NOT on your real interests or parameters.
In RMR’s case, this would be music – and some SEO. But there’s not one single indicator pointing to music, or SEO. It just stubbornly follows the trends coming a) from geography based on your IP address and b) whatever the fuck’s trending currently at the location where you are.
The second part contains these obnoxious suggestions as to who to follow. Not needed, nor requested and – frankly – useless as well.
So, I have a hunch – a sinking feeling of sorts.
The changes probably go deeper in view of the future. Facebook lately started testing to restrict access to likes. In other words, they will continue to count and show you likes and shares, kind of. But not to your visitors. Bluntly speaking, FB wants to increase the number of posts and interactions. Which will correlate directly with the number of ads they can run. Which again has a direct influence on profit.
You get the gist.
Twitter seems to go down that very same route. Same theory, same underlying approach. So, in other words, the users are being sacrificed on the altar of profit maximization.
And where does that leave us?
Like it or not, the new Twitter layout is here to stay. At the end of the day, it is their decision on how they want to structure their tool.
Also, I would not recommend to sign on to one of these services that promise to ‘bring the old layout back’. There’s no old layout anymore and nothing to bring back. The only thing you will create are problems for you further down the timeline.
As to RMR, we don’t really care what format the screen is displayed in. As long as it is functional.
I have a couple of services to run. And for that, those services and the Gods of Social Media demand efficiency, not endless complication. You see, the Social Media outlets need to stop biting the hands that feed them. Or all of a sudden these hands will stop delivering millions of messages. And I guarantee you that they will, once the opportunity arises.
Restricting access, loudly demanding payment to feed the murky beast with no tangible return will only wake the unholy demons of cost-cutting. In other words, those companies that currently invest massive marketing budgets into social media services may suddenly stop. Because other tools emerge, those that today’s youths actually use. And those are not Twitter, and for sure not Facebook.
So, Twitter, you made one more unforced error with this new desktop design.
Can we live with it? Sure. Does it increase efficiency? Nope. Will we drop Twitter once better opportunities arise? Absolutely. New services beckon and those are really juicy.
And, Twitter, you do still have a sizeable portion of the Social Network cake. And good for you, as long as it lasts. However, alienating large tweeters (not spammers or political clowns, mind you) will not help. Those unforced errors we saw lately do not help. Your service becoming a political comedy outlet, instead of a short-form discussion forum, won’t help.
This needs to stop. Or – by Jove – your service risks to fall by the wayside like so many others did already. And this fate can come quicker than you think.