My Decade on Twitter

It was exactly a decade ago on this day in 2007 that I published my first ‘tweet’, without the slightest clue as to what I was signing up for except that it was known as a ‘microblogging’ website because it allowed you to publish your thoughts in 140 characters in comparison to a standard blog post. I soon realised, this platform called ‘Twitter’ challenged my creative limits to produce noteworthy but short-lived content in a shorter span of time. It had an informal design set up yet a distinctive personality, but most importantly it brought me closer to like-minded individuals from around the globe. They were known as ‘followers’ whom I ‘followed’ and virtually befriended, some of whom I was lucky to have personally met while in India. Speaking of creativity, an enthused generation of users also developed an inane vocabulary to describe activities with passion such as coming up with terms like ‘twitterverse’ (twitter+universe), ‘tweeple’ (other Twitter users), or ‘tweetups’ (meetups of Twitter users). Back then it didn’t feel that way, but Twitter spurred the imagination of a silent generation to come out fearlessly & communicate and it diminished cultural and geographical distances to unite egalitarian forces.

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Discovering Klondike

Much as Twitter is a wonderful place for sharing updates, I realized early on it’s also a wonderful place to make lifelong friends. Regardless of where you are or the timezone one can always round up buddies around a clever discussion, as I mostly aim to do there. At one such rather insipid chat with @Shadez today I was introduced to the Klondike brand (which I foolishly thought he was referring to the Gold Rush). But the inquisitiveness drove me to taste one these ice-cream bars. And trust me, they were yum!

Then @hiway joined us to reveal how Klondike Bar was mentioned in one of the acts by the famed ventriloquist Jeff Dunham with his Achmed The Dead Terrorist. And before I knew I was enlightened by another discovery of a great act of ventriloquism, quite by chance! This was one of my lucky days loaded with fun and learning, and I couldn’t thank my friends enough for this. Cheers mates!

About Stars and Hearts!

Twitter changed the icon for its ‘Favorite’ tweet feature, from a Star to a Heart. A seemingly small aesthetic change for the Twitterverse to react with surprise and angst! Design updates in digital products haven’t been easier for designers to interpret as organizations and users have embraced design changes half-heartedly for a number of reasons.

The longer a system exists the greater the amount of comfort and trust the users build around its framework. After all this the ultimate goal of following usability principles. These emotional aspects of user behaviour also exist even with badly designed systems. It means any amount of change in the system is met with shock and discontent by the user groups since they need to develop a fresh perspective around the brand. It’s not so simple to drive design changes.

Design transitions are also harder because it affects behavioural changes and users resist any change in their ‘relationship’ with the software overall. Twitter was perceived as ‘violating’ that loving ‘relationship’ of the users with the ‘Favorite’ starry icon by replacing it with a Heart. Though I personally believe that making a ‘favourite’ is a matter of the heart which is better represented by the ‘heart’ sign than a ‘star’ sign. In the end, designers must make users see the value brought by the design changes by bringing them closer to achieving their goals more efficiently than before. The aesthetic changes need to be scrutinized through a branding review as well. Twitter has done its homework:

The heart, in contrast, is a universal symbol that resonates across languages, cultures, and time zones. The heart is more expressive, enabling you to convey a range of emotions and easily connect with people. And in our tests, we found that people loved it.