In Pictures: 7 things we hate about Twitter
You probably either love Twitter for its quirkiness and brevity or see it as a pointless waste of time. After nearly a decade on the social scene, Twitter still needs to improve its user experience and fill in notable gaps in the service. These seven problems are long overdue for a fix.
7 Things Twitter needs to fix (right now)
Twitter mostly lets you do what you want, and while that freedom is a big part of what makes the platform special, it also contributes to an increasingly frustrating and lackluster experience. If you want to surface relevant tweets about a recent Supreme Court ruling within hours of a decision, you should have the proper tools to do so. Unfortunately, promoted tweets are just as likely to show up as the first result in a search as a tweet from an on-the-scene court reporter. The decade-old social network faces many different challenges, but these seven issues are particularly maddening because they're glaring issues that Twitter seems to simply ignore.
Conversation flow on Twitter a no-go
It's a chore to join and follow conversations on Twitter. The company's system for threaded conversations, based on chronological order and the people who contribute via @replies, is a convoluted mess. Unlike message boards and forums that delineate responses in chronological and hierarchical order based on single topics, Twitter conversations are a running feed. The bits and pieces of conversation included in Twitter feeds have too many variables, and the format makes it virtually impossible to follow responses in context. The conversations on Twitter simply have no flow, and the current system has got to go.
Twitter needs to manage and share 'what's happening'
The concept of Twitter is based on one simple, all-encompassing question — "What's happening?" — but the company doesn't always do a good job sharing its users' answers. Instead of embracing and properly curating the breaking news and live events that play out on Twitter, the company leaves these tasks mostly to chance and circumstance. When humanity shows its face in surprising ways or terrible tragedy strikes, Twitter should do a better job of helping you follow along. A list of top 10 trends simply doesn't cut it anymore.
Unfortunate lack of Follower management tools
Twitter doesn't do you any favors when it comes to managing your "Followers" or the accounts that follow them. The two lists, located on your profile page, show Twitter members in reverse-chronological order based on when they followed you or when they were followed, on a seemingly infinitely, scrollable page. There are no tools to manage your existing Followers, so people who want to bring order to their Twitter accounts are in for a rude awakening. It's simply inexcusable for Twitter to leave this problem unaddressed.
Twitter Direct Messages and 'DM fails'
Twitter's "Direct Messages" (DMs) are a basic, yet powerful tool that lets you communicate privately, but the feature has been riddled with problems since its inception. "DM fails," as the Cool Kids say, have ended careers in rather spectacular fashion (Anthony Weiner). Twitter recently gave its users the capability to receive messages from any user (not only mutual followers), and the company says it will remove the 140-character limit on DMs in July. However, even the company's CFO and head of product have posted tweets intended for private viewing, and it's fair to say that nobody is safe from the occasional DM fail.
Twitter ads should be more relevant — or at least interesting
All too often, the ads you see in your Twitter feed aren't even remotely relevant to your interests. Twitter's targeting capabilities don't match its competitors, and in addition, many of the ads it runs are downright boring. Promoted tweets, accounts and mobile apps frequently come off as safe, tried-and-true, and mundane. Twitter could be a canvas for marketing creativity, but instead it floods users with monotonous ads and often serves the same ads numerous times a day. Some of this is on the advertisers, but Twitter could provide a creative spark if it changed the format of its ads.
Twitter's sorry search feature
Most Twitter users agree its search function is either broken or barely functional. Searching for news, topics, users and even hashtags on Twitter is a lackluster experience compared to other platforms. And its search results serve up too much noise and not enough valuable results. Twitter users are accustomed to the sorry state of search today, but that's not the way it should be, and it's on Twitter to fix the problem.
Twitter's lackluster location experience
Twitter could deliver a more location-aware platform. It's not entirely Twitter's fault that many users choose not include location data with their tweets, but the company also hasn't made any sort of concerted effort to explain why users should tag tweets with locations. And unfortunately, even tweets that do get tagged with a location don't always appear where they should. For example, I recently searched for nearby photos of "sunsets" while in Southern California, and the top result was for Maui. If Twitter designed a captivating experience around location it could not only help users learn more about "what's happening" now, but what's happening nearby.