Text as UI (On Twitter)

Putting me in mind of Dustin Curtis’ multivariate ‘split’ testing to increase click-through rates to his Twitter profile (previously), Jakob Nielsen discusses his iterative design process for a Twitter message advertising his latest usability conference.

The message went from,

Announcing LAS VEGAS and BERLIN as the venues for our biggest usability conference of the year http://bit.ly/UsabilityWeek

to,

LAS VEGAS (October) and BERLIN (November): venues for our biggest usability conference ever http://bit.ly/UsabilityWeek

I am by no means a high-output Twitter user and I dislike ‘How to Twitter’ articles with a passion. Nielsen’s latest I quite like because he notes that, in the case of Twitter and other micro-blogging services, text is a form of UI in itself.

It’s a common mistake to think that only full-fledged graphical user interfaces count as interaction design and deserve usability attention. As our earlier research has shown, URLs and email both contribute strongly to the Internet user experience and thus require close attention to usability to enhance the profitability of a company’s Internet efforts.

The shorter it is, the more important it is to design text for usability.