Challenge:

Design and build a better visualization to view your Twitter Timeline

Initial Sketch of Tweetday

Process

Our approach was grounded in academic research and real world applications; while our motivation was an annoyance with Twitter's reverse chronological timeline. In order to verify this, we surveyed a diverse range of people and found that even respondants who self-identified as technically saavy were frustrated with Twitter's current implementation of the timeline. After we validated the key pain points, our research turned to academic papers where we discovered an effective solution for translating large amounts of text using a SeeSoft style visualization. We combined this with the idea of drawing arcs between related tweets in order to show the conversations appearing in the stream. We also performed a competitive analysis and searched for applications that displayed lots of real time data. This lead us to financial websites using TreeMaps to display a broad range of daily stock market information. The TreeMap visualization enabled us to display a large amount of tweets while giving the user a clear visual hierarchy of the information provided within each cell. It also allowed the user to take control of their timeline and view it by different types of inputs such as retweets, favorites, or media type (picture/video).

Issues

Our team worked well together and we were able to quickly develop the product. Despite this, the goal not achieved was enabling reply and retweet interaction from within the visualization. Enabling this would largely have required more configuration and interaction with the Twitter API. Our initial experience with the API helped us realize that a significant amount of time could be spent, if we so wished, navigating the API alone. We even had to make code changes to accurately render multimedia content due to a change in the data object. We went back to the original scope of our project and in the end we focused our efforts on the visualization itself. However, we acknowledge what users said, that the lack of reply and retweet interaction would be a hurdle in their adopting this visualization.

My roles

User Research, UX Design, Visual Design, Front-end Development

Reflection

We had great reactions from our users:
"This is making me want to read Twitter more."
"This is definitely something that I would want to use."
"I don’t think anything like this exists and I would like to use it when it comes out."
Overall, I felt like we had achieved our primary goals, but this project is a lesson in how the design is never finished. Each feature we worked on brought about new design challenges that needed to be integrated with our overall vision for the application; and each challenge also brought about new opportunities to improve the design and functionality of the product. I believe the TweetDay experience will only get better as we work on known issues and continue to iterate on the designs going forward.
Try out the app here: tweetday.co

Mockup Screen 1 - Overview

Initial technical test

TweetDay Current

Hover over twit arcs

Hover over treemap