Twitter desktop applications – they can be such handy little things. And up until last week everyone at Experience Solutions was quite happily using TweetDeck. However, the little frustrations that we had with the app became magnified due to some unrelated technical issues we were having with our internet. So the hunt for a new Twitter app began.
We chose to use TweetDeck because of some very useful features; multiple account feeds, searches, lists, and the ability to schedule updates. Personally, being able to schedule tweets in advance means that I can get on with my work safe in the knowledge that a part of our web presence is being taken care of.
After searching for other highly rated apps with similar capabilities and a perceived good UI we chose to use Seesmic desktop. But on the first day I encountered the same frustrations I had with TweetDeck.
When using a twitter app that allows for multiple accounts there will be an option, typically a button (picture/icon/name) representing each account, to toggle between the user’s Twitter accounts. Thus, allowing the user to Tweet from one account or another.
TweetDeck uses small icons to represent each linked account
It took me a while to get used to using TweetDeck and I had to be careful to make sure I was not tweeting from the wrong account. However, I found that occasionally I did Tweet from the wrong account. This normally occurred when I wanted to send a Tweet from an account that wasn’t my default, and then forgot to select the correct account before hitting the ‘Send’ button.
Having chosen to switch Twitter applications, on the first day I used Seesmic I accidentally replied to a tweet from the wrong account, repeating the mistake Damian had made earlier in the week.
Seesmic has the account names underneath the update field
After sharing our frustrations, like true UX pros we started to look at how the design can change to reduce the chances of human error. We agreed that the Twitter app needs to reaffirm to the user that they are tweeting from a specific account.
Perhaps a message of some sort that questions the user just before they send it (we noticed that Seesmic have introduced this for retweeting)? But no, that could easily become very annoying. We still want it to be simple after all.
Seesmic has introduced an extra step in the process
A very close solution is CoTweet’s solution of having an overlay appear when you want to write an update that makes you choose which account you want to send it from (including multiple accounts). But this is also an extra when all I want to do is quickly write my Tweet and get on with my day.
CoTweet asks the user to choose an account
The simplest solution that we could come up with was for the send button to be different. We all have to click ‘Send’ for our 140 characters to reach the digital abyss, meaning that we engage with the send button when we click it. So what if the choice of which account to send it from was also the send button?
Wireframed version shows where the buttons could go
Each button represents a twitter account that has been added to the app. Once you have written your tweet you press the account button of choice to send it. When the tweet is sent from the first account the tweet will remain for a short period of time allowing the user to select other accounts or delete it and tweet something else.
So, now you have ‘heard’ our idea, if you have encountered this problem and have some ideas yourself, or know of an app you think comes close to solving our problem, let us know!
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About Samantha Harvey
Sam recently graduated from Visual Communication. She joined our team in April 2011 and has been conducting user research and has been making sure our user interfaces follow good design principles. She's keen to point out our poor selection of fonts... er I mean typography (sorry Sam). Follow Samantha on twitter @samharvey_ux