Twitter A/B Testing “Find People”

I oversee a few different Twitter accounts, @nickdenardis, @educheckup, and @waynestate just to name a few and usually have them all open throughout the day. I noticed something interesting today, they are running an A/B test on the wording of a link in the top bar.

The feature, although recently reactivated on the #newtwitter design, has yet to get an announcement on the Twitter Blog. The old “who to follow” feature got it’s fair share of criticism and was removed for a while. My personal opinion is that it was horribly implemented and didn’t really help anybody. The new “who to follow” is actually pretty good and I’ve used it a few times to discover people.

“Find People” vs. “Who To Follow”

Going in between two accounts today I noticed a difference in wording on the top bar. I ended up trying all my accounts and could only find two different wordings, their might be more though. It looks like Twitter is doing an A/B test with the link title, “Find People” vs. “Who To Follow”. I have included some screen shots below.

Personally I prefer “Find People” since it is implies an action and I am being proactive about it. But I can see for Twitter newbies that “who to follow” is more about discovering and that is what would be a more enticing action.

I hope Twitter decides to share some statistics about the test on their official announcement of the feature.

Update (Nov 22, 2010 at 3:30pm)

I was just alerted by Jesse Lavery via Twitter that he has a variation that just says “People”

Update (Nov 29, 2010 at 11:40pm)

And apparently some accounts, like Mallory Wood‘s don’t have any link at all to “Find People”

Do you have a different variation? Feel free to post it in the comments.

Screenshots of the #newtwitter

Since everyone is anxiously awaiting their migration to the #newtwitter, including myself, I thought I would share what the interface looks like. Logging in this morning I discovered my university account @waynestate was migrated so I took the oportunity to share some screen shots. I haven’t had time to play with it too much so a full review will be coming shortly.

In the mean time enjoy these shots:

Home Page

Profile View

Direct Messages

Composing

View Hashtag

Form Errors – Validating phone numbers and the importance of hand testing

Nothing replaces hand testing forms

I fill out a lot of forms during the day, some on existing sites and others as new internal forms that need review. When testing I have a habit of submitting forms with every error combination possible. I know there are automated tools for this but nothing beats seeing it from the users prospective. It is different to run a command line tool and get a number of fails and successes as it is to spend 2 minutes to fill in a bunch of fields and get some weird screen state, odd colors or wording that doesn’t make sense.

That is exactly what is happening above. I clearly filled out the form to my best understanding and still got an error.

Things I notice about this error:

  1. There is something wrong with these three fields, but it doesn’t point out which one(s)
  2. The wording of the error forces me to look up and then scan down to see where the field is
  3. In my mind I did place the area code in the phone field
  4. There is no explanation of the preferred format for the phone number

After understanding that my method isn’t working and they were not going to automatically transform my format to their preferred format I tried every phone number combination I could think of. In the end none of them worked. Being the curious person I am I ended up digging through their validation javascript and found this regular expression it was validating against:

^((\\(\\d{3}\\) ?)|(\\d{3}[-\\s]))?\\d{3}[-\\s]\\d{4}$

Doing a little more investigation I found that it didn’t work at all. Try every combination you can think of at: http://j.mp/9sIWEn

Good error messages should include:

  1. A summary at the top of the page of all the errors (long forms usually push the user back to the top of the page)
  2. A highlight around each field with an error
  3. An explanation with an example or clear direction where the visitor went wrong
  4. Not be nit-picky about formatting, transform as much as possible automatically

In the end I brought this issue up to Groupon and they fixed it within an hour. The issue was not with their code, but on the survey vendor’s site. It got me thinking about the time and effort the user has gone through to get to this point and end up confronted with a road block. These small things have the potential to be a huge turn off for the average user. Command line tools may be great but nothing replaces what you can learn by testing things by hand.

* Note, that is not my real phone number 😉