Is Twitter to Facebook what Google has been to Yahoo?

by phil on Monday Mar 9, 2009 6:17 PM
thinking about design

One of my favorite movements going on right now is the Slow Movement. What this proposes is to focus on gradual, meaningful changes, rather than quick rises.

I especially like the implications for design. Do you keep introducing new features so as to attract new users, or do you try to keep existing users happy by staying familiar, and only making incremental, but meaningful changes when absolutely necessary.

What if Facebook hadn't implemented the Applications feature? My gut tells me their userbase would be the same, if not larger. Certainly people were turned off by the Applications feature. Was anybody turned on? I'm still with facebook, but it feels "messy" to me now, and so I don't check it as much as I used to. All the doo-dads seem to interfere with the core use-case, which is checking out other people.

Twitter seems like the opposite. They've been very slow to change their system. I've been using it for a year and haven't noticed a substantial, new feature or re-design. Oftentimes I get frustrated, "Why haven't they improved this g-d thing yet!??" All sorts sorts of questions seem to crop up. Have they run out of funding? Are they just trying to focus on scaling the servers? Do they not care about improving the design?

Or is it intentional? If you look at the space of Twitter apps, there are so many good features that would seem very tempting, as a product manager, to slap onto Twitter. But by not doing anything, what happens is users adapt. They become creative. They write 3rd-party tools.

Right now, Twitter is very simple. An almost "Google" of social networking services. Just one box, a few buttons, go.

Creative Commons License