For the past 12 months I haven’t had any main social media app installed on my phone (except Reddit and Medium). I’ve found that for productivity reasons and for my mental health it’s better to not have these apps on my phone, but the other day I finished reading “Hatching Twitter”, by Nick Bilton.
The book is an in-depth account of Twitters coming to be and although at times having a movie-like story being told, it gave me enough curiosity about Twitter that I downloaded it onto my phone.
I had an account that I used in high school but I wanted to start fresh, so I deleted all my old tweets, unfollowed everyone I don’t talk to, and followed people whose opinion I do care about. From then on, the addiction started, after refreshing my feed just once I was filled with tweets that captured my interest. Tweets like this one from @LouisD’hauwe.
I started following other designers and developers and quickly found myself mindlessly scrolling through my feed.
First (and most notably), Twitters splash screen animation is really cool. I’m sure we are all familiar with it, but if not, here it is!
Twitter’s Splash Screen Animation It caused me to become interested in redesigning our splash screen animation at Tess. So I went to work, thinking about how our UI/UX could include an animation, I never like to copy, so I instead made the animation fade in and out almost like it was breathing.
Another thing that I found interesting about Twitter was how they managed to keep such a simple UI, but still make it so easy to keep scrolling. It’s incredibly addicting but yet so simple to scroll and take in a lot of information without anything particularly sticking out. It doesn’t take much effort to read tweets from your feed, but yet if you want to go ahead and converse with someone and use that other part of your brain then it’s also easy. It’s so addicting because of the simplicity of the UX.
Lately as a designer I’ve been feeling like I’ve been having to create extremely elaborate UI designs to keep up with everything on Muzli but I have been analyzing it and have realized that users prefer simple and familiar UI’s. Users need to be able to navigate your app using the “System 1”, automatic responses (see “Thinking, Fast and Slow”) part of their brain. While at key moments of interaction in your app using their “System 2”, more methodical, logical processing, part of their brain.
For example, I use my more automatic brain while I am scrolling through my feed, reading the tweets in front of me. I’d say I do this around 80% of the time while I am on Twitter. This keeps me busy and entertained but also addicted because it’s quite easy to do this without any logical reasoning. However, the other 20% is spent interacting with other users, coming up with responses, and retweeting, acts that require some more logical reasoning and thinking. A good balance of these two things is key in my opinion to making a truly addicting application.
One more thing on UI/UX that I thought about that may serve to help stir some thoughts in your head around as well. As designers, we constantly see the progression of the industry and how talented people are with their UI/UX work, if you want to see some examples of some really talented people click here. Sadly, a lot of users can get really confused by these beautiful UI’s through their constant animations and interactions, I think that it’s really easy for us to forget that simplicity triumphs over many things we’d like to make and hope users will love and easily understand. One day it’ll come, but for now I think that its best to stick with UX’s that are familiar to users.
Twitter is now a tool for my news and a place that I check 2–3x a day for news and updates from people I wish I was friends with (they inspire me). I have a hard limit on 20 minutes a day and you’d be surprised about how it’s made me slightly more aware of what is going on internationally and in my topics of interest.
Which brings me to my final point, be intentional with your use of social media. Find what works for you and what doesn’t, why you want to use it, if you need a limit on a network then there are apps out there that can track your usage (I use Moment). Twitter made me realize that you can in fact be intentional with your use of social and can get some good out of it.
Thanks for reading, and if you liked this post let me know! You can reach out to me on Twitter, @tfaieta (meta I know).