#newnewtwitter Mobile: UX clangers are just the beginning…

So I’ve been using Twitter’s mobile website for a while and it’s been updated a number of times, most recently a few months ago. There was no fanfare until just recently when #newnewtwitter was announced and it became clear that the current look was part of this redesign effort. What surprises me is that this site has 4 fundamental issues that irritate the hell out of me: default landing page; unauthenticated requests for restricted pages; language settings, and; picture links go to normal website.

Some background…

The UX issues (default landing page; unauthorised request for restricted page) have been particularly highlighted to me as I use an old work phone that I have lying around for want of something better. The sad part of this bit of the story is that the phone is running Windows Mobile 6.5. The tragic part of the story is that if you load any decent sized web page it deletes all cookies (I know, I know, #firstworldproblems). So while the UX issues might mildly annoy a normal user, losing the cookies and being repeatedly forced to re-authenticate makes the clangers really obvious and turns the rage up to 11.

Default landing page…

What is the more common task a user of a service is going to perform: registering an account or logging in? For everyone but a spammer the ratio will be 1 to “some really large number”. For a mobile site, where the user is more likely to have registered via other means already, the score will be more commonly 0 to “some really large number”. Common sense would indicate that your default landing page should be for the most common task, so present the user with a login form. Twitter have chosen to make the default landing page their registration form. Logging in requires following a link to the login form. Perhaps Twitter has some A/B testing that indicates this leads to more registrations but for existing users it just seems to be “pessimised” for the most common task.

Unauthenticated requests for restricted pages…

Most sites, when a user requests a restricted page before they have authenticated, have a fairly straight forward and smooth method of handling this.

  1. User requests a restricted page without being authenticated.
  2. Show the user a login form or redirect them to the login page.
  3. After successful authentication redirect the user back to the page they originally requested.

Twitter, in their wisdom, has chosen a different method for their mobile site.

  1. User requests a restricted page without being authenticated.
  2. Redirect the user to the registration page.
  3. User has to click through to the login page.
  4. After successful authentication redirect the user to the first page of their timeline.
  5. User has to manually navigate back to the page they originally requested.

Language settings…

Twitter’s mobile site ignores your language settings and uses geo-location of your IP address to select which language to display.

Picture links go to the normal website…

Don’t get me started on Twitter’s t.co self-serving service, and I know Twitter has no control over other links in tweets, but when someone has uploaded a picture to their pic.twitter.com service they haven’t bothered to offer a mobile friendly way of viewing those pictures, even if you a clicking through from their mobile site. I’m sure newer phones cope better with this but Opera on Windows Mobile 6.5 chokes horribly when presented with the main Twitter website.

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