confirmed last week that it is experimenting with and will soon roll out push notifications through its official iPhone app.Are you ready to get buzzed by Tweets? Twitter
What does that mean? It depends on how exactly the company lets users manage and receive their notifications, but it's not too early to start thinking about how push could change the Twitter experience. We asked a number of experts in the field of User Experience design what they thought about Twitter push notifications and several of them predicted it will be a game-changer for mainstream users.
Charlene McBride, a self-described "cranky UX designer" from Boston, says first what we're all probably thinking: "I think it could be an interesting way for users to prioritize certain tweets, but I also wonder what keeps it from becoming yet another firehose of status updates."
Let's look past the risk of information overload for a moment, though, and assume that Twitter implements the feature well. What might that mean?
Right: screenshot captured by Nick Starr.
For me, getting replies and direct messages sent to me by push notification (I've been using Notifo) has been really nice. Twitter can be both synchronous (a real-time exchange) and asynchronous (I'll see your posts when I get around to it) but the addition of push notifications brings the personal communication of replies and direct messages firmly into the synchronous experience, even when I'm not at my computer or looking at a mobile app. It really adds to the flow of using Twitter. The asynchronous part of Twitter is most suited to non-personal messages broadcast by the people I'm following; I'd like the messages intended for me personally right away, please.
That's my take on it, here's what some more UX pros have to say.
Push as SMS Replacement
The non-Twitter-users I know say, 'If you want a reply, you text or email [a recipient]; if you don't need a reply you post to Facebook, what is Twitter good for?' Bringing a more SMS-like experience to the desktop (where you don't incur $0.05 per text charges) might win over a different audience.
Twitter and SMS coming together again, just like the product's creators originally envisioned? That could lead to some truly far-out use-cases, too.
"[Push notifications] really start to blur the lines between what we traditionally think of as a Twitter client and SMS," says Dwayne King, User Experience Strategist at Portland, Oregon design firm Pinpoint Logic.
"Not knowing for sure what options they'll open up for push, it could expand beyond the bounds of what something like SMS could do. Where SMS requires some sort of pre-existing relationship between the texters, Twitter and push via hash tags or geographic location opens up a new avenue for meet-ups, flash mobs and such."
Bringing Celeb-Tracking Mainstream Users Back to the Good Old Days of Twitter
The most compelling take on the User Experience implications of Twitter push notifications may come from Aviel Ginzburg, UX guy at Seattle-based Untitled Startup, makers of Twitter bulk-conversation analysis tool RowFeeder. Ginzburg thinks that the addition of push notification tools could help make mainstream users, who have been introduced to Twitter as a way to passively consume updates from celebrities, aware of the service's incredible potential as a communication tool.
"Those of us who have been using Twitter since the days that it was largely (entirely) text messaging driven perceive Twitter much differently than mainstream users."The way that the site has been restructured in the past several months including the new search, celebrity, and brand focus, categories, featured tweets, promotions, etc have drawn in the mainstream in such a way that they aren't perceiving Twitter in the way that the early adopters do - as a real-time communication platform..." -Aviel Ginzburg"Two days ago I was having coffee with a friend of mine, who has been on Twitter for a little over a year (tweets everyday, DMs, @replies people, and even owns an iphone w/Twitter for iPhone) and as my phone beeped over and over again, she asked me if something was wrong. I said no, I just get my DMs text messaged to my phone. Her response was, 'you can do that?!'
"She has been using Twitter like people use Facebook, as a way to consume (mainly) and share content in a 'on your own time' fashion. When she uses Twitter, she really uses it, but in controlled bursts when she is physically engaging.
"The way that the site has been restructured in the past several months including the new search, celebrity, and brand focus, categories, featured tweets, promotions, etc have drawn in the mainstream in such a way that they aren't perceiving Twitter in the way that the early adopters do - as a real-time communication platform that will one day replace text messaging, email, and even phone calls. Just look at the Twitter homepage... it's a text media consumption site.
"With the announcement of push notifications, they're bring the messaging platform core value proposition back to the forefront, and pushing the mainstream, who joined Twitter for entirely different reasons, to experience Twitter in the same way us early adopters do -- as a real-time communication channel that you never disconnect from. The concern of course is: have these users really signed-up for entering a service where the are expected to be available and engaged at all times?
"It may seem like a small and logical update (cut out the text messaging middle-man), but really, Twitter is going to be dramatically changing the way its mainstreams users experience and use Twitter."
What do you think the implications of push notifications in Twitter's own mobile applications will be? Are you looking forward to it? Do you think it's something only power-users are really interested in? Do you think it will change peoples' SMS habits?