Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 5:15 pm.

The Best Part Of Twitter’s New Design Is That It’s Experimenting In Public

Love or hate Twitter’s new design features — I like the in-line photo and video previews, but the reply/fav/retweet icons under every tweet feel a little too noisy — they say one great thing about Twitter: That it’s not afraid to experiment boldly in public. 

This is, I believe, a trait that all great digital/web companies must have, and one of the reasons that Apple’s web/cloud/services reputation is its worst, especially relative to companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc., which iterate in public all the time. (Apple’s strategy works great for things that need to be near-perfect and shouldn’t be updated frequently, such as hardware devices and operating systems. It doesn’t work so well for things that should get updated weekly, monthly, or daily, like most popular web services.)

Sure, consistency is important, and it’s probably not a good idea to make drastic changes all the time — that suggests you don’t know what you’re looking for. Indeed, the current Twitter timeline is a big departure from 140 characters of plain text. But it’s also very obviously where things have been heading. (Twitter even conducted a public A/B test of this new UI earlier this fall, which I randomly participated in, tweeted about, and no one seemed to care.) Also, consistency is also not the only thing that matters.

Remember: Twitter’s goal is to maintain its independence, and soon become a large, profitable, public media company. If Twitter can try new things — in public — that make its service easier to understand, easier to use, easier to monetize, and easier to grow, that’s a big victory for the company and its users.

(Another example of this: Twitter’s #Music app, which, while nice-enough looking, reportedly isn’t doing so hot lately. Still, worth trying! Might even be worth a 2.0. If it became a huge, lasting hit, it might have been the beginning of many new Twitter vertical apps, from Shopping and Travel to News and Finance. It still might be worth trying some of those other ones. Anyway.)

Oldie-But-Goodie: Understanding Twitter