Twitter beta program reveals a colourful, disastrous, redesign

Twitter last week announced a new beta program to test out upcoming features and future changes to the platform. Users are now being allowed into the platform and it turns out that their new conversational update is a gross whirlwind of colour.

Yes, the current plan from our social media overlords is that Twitter’s replies will be colour coded to allow easy differentiation between responses from different people. While we’ve not used it ourselves, the screenshots captured by TechCrunch reveal a vomit inducing whirl of colour.

It looks more like something akin to a messaging app, although when TechCrunch spoke to Twitter’s Sara Haider, the product head, she told them that the colours will be toned down before it pushes to full release.

Twitter are also planning some other big changes that are bound to be contentious, including algorithmically sorting replies to make reading threads easier. Moving away from a chronological system has proven unpopular in the past with Twitter users, after Twitter made the whole timeline algorithmic, with the backlash convincing the company to add a button letting people choose between chronological and algorithmic ordering.

Credit: TechCrunch

Credit: TechCrunch

Other tests involve canning engagement icons, ditching the heart button and also IM-style status messages. Not all of these features are bad, and not all of them will make it to full release, but it does suggest that Twitter has a different view of their own social network than the audience of people who use the app. Twitter seem to want to turn their app into Facebook and Messenger combined, while the users are mostly drawn to the app for its small footprint and lightweight design.

Meanwhile, founder Jack Dorsey has claimed many of these new features has been added looking at how people interact with the platform, noting that several features like hashtags, retweets and even the humble mention weren’t originally part of the platform but were invented by the users: ““We have some work to do to make it easier to discover,” said Dorsey. He added that the platform was frequently now “more about people than interests.”

How these changes will be received remains to be seen, but these signal some huge changes to the way conversation is handled and facilitated on Twitter. 

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