Dear Twitter: Tweetdeck wasn’t broken

December 20, 2011






Dear Twitter:

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. “The Google” told me the phrase was coined by a member of Jimmy Carter’s cabinet — Thomas Lance. And while Lance had no understanding of blue birds asking people to “follow me” and couldn’t have begun to explain what a hashtag was, he might as well have invented the phrase upon trying the latest version of Tweetdeck.

All that to say, there was nothing wrong with Tweetdeck before you bought it. Tweetdeck was the most popular Twitter desktop app. And no offense Twitter, but we originally needed Tweetdeck because your user experience on your .com site was so incredibly poor. Still is, as a matter of fact.

User experience defines any and every product. Just ask Steve Jobs. Or anyone at Apple. It leads to word of mouth. It impacts your customer service. It can make, or break, you brand perception. And no amount of marketing or PR can make up for a product that isn’t easy to use.

So why you felt the need to take away some of our favorite features in your first release of Tweetdeck, I’ll never understand. I liked when my links shortened automatically in a tweet. I was a fan of skinnier columns. I used all the different settings that were available, like automatically including the hashtag in a tweet when replying to a post on that hashtag.

The fact that you removed all these features is annoying. But the fact that you did it to sell ads is infuriating. And that’s the conclusion I am forced to draw. Here’s how I’m guessing things went down:

- Ever since Twitter’s inception, there have been major questions raised about your long-term financial viability.

- Within the last year, you introduced promoted tweets, trends and accounts. And brands started buying them. Phew! An answer to your financial viability.

- While the promoted offerings have been doing well, there was a problem. Promoted trends and accounts didn’t show up in Tweetdeck. So you couldn’t claim as much platform reach as you might have been able to otherwise. Too many people weren’t using

- That’s why you bought Tweetdeck. Because you realized customers loved it. I thought it was a smart move at the time. Take the most popular desktop app you have and integrate your promoted offerings, lists and other features into  it.

- Only, that’s not what happened. You bought Tweetdeck and you upgraded it; well, you released a new version. A new version that has about a tenth of the features Tweetdeck used to have. What gives?

The only conclusion I can come to is that you bought Tweetdeck with the intention of killing it off so more people would have to use, and would therefore be exposed to your promoted offerings.

I would love for you or someone else to prove me wrong or offer a better explanation to me and the many other Tweetdeck users who see the newest version of your app as an epic fail. I have received tweets from at least 10 of them over the past three days, most reading like the one at the top of this post.

Because on the surface, this looks like another case of a brand that put money before usability. Fail whale indeed!


Justin Goldsborough

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BethWardPR 6 pts

Justin - as always you ARE right on target. The other week my husband joined Twitter and I told him he would love it not because of the 140 character messages, but because he could easily search, track and follow on Tweetdeck. He downloaded the most recent version and I tried to help him navigate it. All the confusing imagery remained and non of the straightforward usage left. I used HootSuite in the past and others swear by it (particularly the analytics.) I'm switching back.

dferrari 7 pts

Justin: I could NOT agree more. All the bells & whistles of the original Tweetdeck are gone. Now I am SO limited. I even have to copy/paste links manually to shorten them.

JGoldsborough 232 pts moderator

dferrari The having to copy and paste links elsewhere to shorten them issue was the last straw for me. I can only guess they are trying to drive people away from Tweetdeck. #Fail.

rmadison 7 pts

I realize it's tough to switch platforms once you become comfortable with them, but it sounds like "comfort" has left the building, and ain't coming back.

I did a really quick, side-by-side comparison of Hootsuite vs. Tweetdeck when I was in a position to make a choice. I wasn't using either, and thus had no love or lack thereof for either. I perceived Hootsuite to be a cleaner, more functional, more utilitarian platform, so that's what I chose. This was in contrast to our Eric Melin who used (and still uses) Tweetdeck.

That was several months ago, and while I've had absolutely *zero* complaints about Hootsuite, I've heard numerous complaints about Tweetdeck.

This, then, is a slightly long winded way of saying, if you haven't already started using Hootsuite, I think you should definitely give it a try. It works.

JGoldsborough 232 pts moderator

rmadison Thanks for the two cents. I have used Hootsuite some in the past and am using it full-time now. I have no patience for brands that discard usability in favor of dollars. Sad, because I was a long-time Tweetdeck advocate until this recent release.

Conversation from Twitter


AmandaOleson Thanks for the RT:). Been using Hootsuite this week. Getting used to it.