The #NewNewTwitter in screenshots, my thoughts

Interested in the #NewNewTwitter? I was totally bummed by their “rolling out the redesigned Twitter over the next few weeks” and realization that it could be weeks before I could play with the desktop version. I have been following their changes for some time. By chance I tried their trick of updating my mobile app and what do you know, within a few hours I got the #NewNewTwitter on my desktop.

Playing around with it a bit I found some things I really like and others that I’m not a fan of. I break them down below.

Timeline

Actually pretty clean and I love the inline conversation view. Not a fan of having to click three times to get photos to appear large though. It took me a minute to figure out that there is “Compose a new Tweet…” input on the left side right under my user information, I actually find this quicker.

@Connect

They did a great job taking the information overload of the “Activity” tab and bringing some sanity to it. I found that the “Activity” is now located in the #Discover area, not gone, just placed with the “not exactly related to me” stuff.

Conversations

Clicking on a tweet brings up the conversation inline. I like this because the three column sidebar before just wasn’t enough room, especially if you didn’t have a high resolution monitor. I wish it brought up the entire conversation though, not just the replied to and replied tweets.

Lists

Again the interface took another hit against lists. This time they tucked them away under the User icon -> Lists. At least this time you can get to them all on one page instead of only seeing half and having to click another link to get to the full list in the #NewTwitter interface.

List Timeline

I really like the list timeline because it acts like the regular timeline. But my biggest complaint is the lack of context around what you’re looking at. I feel like this page needs a header or breadcrumbs or something to identify the list. Maybe it’s just me but the top left of the page feels too much like a user profile.

Direct Messages

If you use DM’s at all you already know they took a huge UI hit in the mobile interface and now it is confirmed they are equally as hidden in the web interface. Hidden behind two clicks, Profile -> Direct Messages. As you can see from the shot below they don’t even get a full timeline view. It’s a shame.

DM Conversations

Clicking in to a DM conversation the window doesn’t expand and space is pretty limited. For me this just isn’t enough room, I would prefer if more of the conversation was in view or at least you could resize the window. The style of the conversation is very nice, just wish it wasn’t squeezed in a tiny window.

The Little Things

When focusing on the search box all your saves searches come up below. This is a nice change from the drop down menu in the older interface. It puts the search in the same context as the user’s action.

As you move through your timeline and click to view and open photos/videos/conversations the tweets start to space out. As soon as you open a tweet they offer a nice little “Close all open Tweets” button at the top of the page. Nice little big detail.

Final Thoughts

Don’t get me wrong, I really do like the direction Twitter is going with the increased emphasis on conversations but I just can’t get past their continued hate toward Lists and now Direct Messages. By trying to pull in new users to explore they are excluding the seasoned users, but I guess that is what the Tweetdeck redesign is for.

Do you have the #NewNewTwitter yet? If so, what do you think?

Why my dog has a twitter account but my daughter does not

I have been meaning to write this post for some time but to be honest time has escaped me this last month. Little things like being the technical director for TEDxDetroit, running the Chicago Marathon, hiring a project manager, hiring a full time developer, and the birth of my first child have kept my attention. It has been a fun ride filled with a lot of unexpected surprises.

@foxydenardis

As a lot of you know, my dog Foxy has her own twitter account, it is a great way to extend her personality to the world. Twitter is a source for instant information, asking questions and giving feedback to others. Almost immediately upon creating Foxy’s Twitter account she was followed by a handful of other whippets and greyhounds. They have been a great resource of information; twitter connects her to a larger community that just isn’t available in our immediate area.

I wanted something similar for Cecilia. Thinking about the people who would be following her I knew a Twitter account would not work. Only a handful of our family have Twitter accounts and frankly the user experience of Twitter if you are not familiar with it is intimidating. Long term I want Cecilia to choose the social networks she would be interacting with. Who knows if Twitter will be around in 5-10 years and I didn’t want to put her social capital in to a service that could be gone at any moment.

ceciliadenardis.com

I’m a huge fan of owning yourname.com, no matter what it should always be a destination to give public insights about yourself. For me, yourname.com is your resume, it is how the world sees you. Buying ceciliadenardis.com is the least I could do to give her an identity beyond our household.

I was reminded about this while listening to a talk by Clay Hebert at LessConf. The point he makes is when your child is graduating high school with a 4.0 and involved in three sports what is going to make him/her stand out? There will be thirty or forty other students graduating with the same credentials. Having a website where they can develop their writing skills, post about projects they worked on, and be able to explain to the world that what they are doing matters. There is no better way to know someone than exploring someones strengths than to see a history of them.

Using a domain as a single destination give us/her flexibility to what goes on it. Right now I choose to use Tumblr since it requires basically zero setup and is perfect for posting photos, this is what we plan to use it for until she can type. The other great thing about Tumblr is it allows people to subscribe how they want, via the dashboard, RSS or email. A side benefit is each post gets emailed from my email address (looks like I sent it personally) which allows family to reply directly to me. This may seem insignificant but in the past few weeks I have talked to and learned more about distant friends/family members than ever before. Twitter is a great tool but for this audience they just don’t understand it, talk to them about websites and email though and they know exactly what to do.

If you have a child I think the single best thing you can give them is theirname.com. It is cheap and has the potential to significantly help them in the future.

What tools are you using to document your child/children’s lives? Anything public? I would love to hear about what is and is not working for you.

Follow Cecilia DeNardis at: http://ceciliadenardis.com/

Image Maps – Ability vs. Appropriate Use

I recently made a comment on an EDU Checkup episode about how the use of image maps was a negative aspect in the code of a website.

I promptly got the following comment:

I don’t get it. What’s wrong with image maps? Aren’t they still part of the HTML 5 working draft?

http://www.w3.org/TR/html5/the-map-element.html#the-map-element

…doesn’t seem like they’re planning on phasing it out.

I wanted to take a minute to explain the difference between the official ability to use tags from the HTML spec and the appropriate use of those tags.

Yes, it is part of the standard

For me the issue with image maps isn’t their place in the standard, it’s their implementation. Tables are still part of the HTML5 standard but there are appropriate uses and uses that make the user experience far more difficult than necessary.

Let’s add some context

For example on the NEL site an image map is used to link to the social media sites. I can see the motivation behind using a single image for all the social icons to reduce HTTP requests. But that means the meta data behind the links basically is stating here is an image with some hotspots on it. It doesn’t give any insight into what is being linked on. Personally I think the better approach would be to list out each link in an unsorted list with an appropriate ID to label what the list is for. Then using CSS to display them next to each other, hide the text with a text-indent: -9999em and then use that same single social logo sprite to display the appropriate icons image for people can can actually view the site.

Image Map

Unordered List

This would allow the same visual result but add far deeper meaning to the HTML for machines and screen readers.

Just my two cents. I am interested in seeing examples of real appropraite uses of image maps, if you have any please feel free to comment.

Does the honor system still work?

In the age of free music, movies and book at your internet fingertips is there any room for the honor system? What motivates people to pay for anything if there is a way to get it for free? I have been thinking a lot about service the last few weeks, inspired by a book I am reading, The Ultimate Question by Fred Reichheld. The book makes a distinction between bad and good profits based on the customer experience. Bad profits come from customers who have negative experiences with your business. The book makes the argument that the most important thing for any business to focus on is increasing the likelihood for a customer to recommend it to a friend or family member.

This weekend I was in Biggby Coffee, a local (regional) Michigan based coffee shop (side note, I would recommend Biggby to everyone). At the end of the counter I noticed something interesting. A box for “line jumpers” who just need to get their coffee and get on their way. The clear box says:

“skip the line, help yourself to your favorite brewed coffee”

It states the prices for each size below it and has a slot for money.

I think this is an awesome idea for various reasons. But I also think it makes a bold statement about Biggby itself. They aren’t just churning out coffee all day to make the most profit possible but they actually pay attention to their customers needs. I’m not someone who gets a coffee from a shop each morning but I know a lot of people who do. They get the same thing each day and their coffee shop is just doing a simple transaction. There is no need to try and “up sell” them because convenience is the ultimate driver in their decision.

So does it work?

I asked the barista if it gets used often and she said a few people (regulars) have used it but it wasn’t wide spread. The ones that use it typically overpaid by a little, she assumed it was because it was easier to just put in two dollars, or it was a little bit of a tip as a thank you for making the service available. She didn’t have any examples of people short changing the system, although they don’t keep a close eye on it at all times.

Obviously this reliance on the honor system wouldn’t work everywhere and for everyone. But for me, just seeing trust like this gives me hope for the business world and humanity.

Redhook Long Hammer IPA – Standing out in the beer isle

I am not a beer snob or anything but I am always on the lookout for something new. Luckily my local Meijer has a pretty decent selection of craft beer. Previously I wasn’t aware how hard it is for a small brewery to get regional or even national distribution until my friend Rob Vrabel, home brewer, schooled me about it.

If you know me, you know I have a thing for great packaging. I am always on the look out for attention to detail, even in the beer isle.

This week, Redhook Long Hammer IPA totally took my attention. I have never seen it at the store but it’s package design stopped me in my tracks. So of course I had to buy it.

Recently Re-aligned

Rob alerted me of Redhook’s recent re-branding and re-alignment of their packaging. Beervana did a great job dissecting the new look. It really shows they have insight not only in to themselves but also their current and potential audience.

My Thoughts

Simple Colors – The package isn’t overly designed, simple, straight to the point. With a wall of images on other packages in the isles, the solid green, white and red stand out to the scanning eye. I just had to know what this beer was that decided they needed to make a statement.

Bold Graphness – IPA’s come in all different tastes. In the top left of the package on both the front and sides there is a graph that shows where this particular one sits, Bold. But it doesn’t just state it is bold it also gives you where it sits in the realm of beers. “Refreshing, Smooth, Bold, and Dark”, you know exactly what you are getting yourself into.

Microcopy – On various areas of the package there are some great examples of a copy writer who understands how to connect to their audience. Some examples are “Long Hammer IPA is a big fan of dry hopping, which sounds much dirtier than it is.”, “30 years of cheer”, “well built brew”, and “Redhook would always enjoy himself responsibly. Do the same.” Just to name a few. Check out the bottom which tells a great story too.

I’m turning 30. Let’s have some brews

Who knows what led you to read the bottom of my six-pack. Maybe it fell and landed upside down. Maybe you’re recycling. Maybe you’ve completely run out of decent reading material. But you know what? The why doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that we’re having a little chat. Call me sentimental, but turning 30 has made me appreciate the times we habe out together all the more. So crack open a beer and let’s have some time.

Cheers, Redhook.

P.S. If you’re ever in Woodinville, WA or Portsmith, NH, be sure to swing by one of my pubs. Let’s have a beer and I’ll show you around the brewery.

Redhook himself – Inspecting the packaging a little bit more you will notice a little guy starting at the bottom of the mountain. Turning to the side as I took it off the shelf I notice he made it half way up, I thought that was pretty cool. Only when I took a beer out did I notice he made it to the top. Success! Just like me. This progressive climb matched my progressive experience with the product. After this I was totally impressed!

Taste

After all of this the beer could have tasted horrible and I would still have been impressed. But as suspected it tasted as good as the amount of detail paid put in to the package design. Probably one of my favorite IPA’s. Great job Redhook, all the way around! Trust me, if I find myself in Woodinville, WA or Portsmith, NH I’ll be sure to stop in.

Overall Grade

In the end I am giving Redhook an “A” for their entire package experience, taste and for the ability to gain an advocate with their attention to detail.