Time(line)s Are Changing

For my first UX post, we have a twofer! I want to talk about 2 interfaces I use for my social networking fix that recently changed the way they display certain media. The Facebook news feed and the Twitter timeline. Let’s start with Facebook.

Facebook: Video Fun Time

Facebook has added video into the news feed! And it plays and stops automatically depending on if its on the page or not (both in the iOS app and in desktop browsers)! Wonderful! Well, kinda. I have mixed feelings towards the videos automatically playing. It’s cool that the videos know to play and pause themselves depending on screen position, but I’ve found them to also be kind of distracting from the other content on the page. Also, they have odd pausing behavior on both the mobile and browser interfaces. In browsers, the videos pause when the user scrolls. This just feels bizarre to me, maybe because I’m used to the video continuing to play on sites like YouTube. I suppose Facebook’s UX people are assuming users are finished with the video when they scroll, but I find the scroll-pausing to be jarring and would rather it paused when scrolled off the screen.

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The strange pausing behavior also happens on mobile, however in this case, it’s that the video behaves differently than most videos in iOS’ full screen mode. The odd behavior is that the video pauses whenever the user touches the screen as the controls appear. This isn’t jarring, but it’s pretty annoying, especially if I just want to check how much of the video is left. The standard iOS behavior would be the controls for the video appearing and the user can choose to pause the video or not. I think the app would be better off if they stayed consistent with the standard iOS interaction, especially since the full screen transition looks so much like the standard one.

Twitter: Images, Everywhere

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My Twitter timeline has been looking a little bit more rich with media these days. You know what I’m talking about. The photos. They’re everywhere. I was on the fence about the images in my timeline at first, but now I’ve fallen off the fence and I feel like reality pushed me. In my experience so far, in Twitter’s Mac OS and browser interfaces, all they’ve done is take away my choice in deciding what images I want to see and decrease the number of tweets I can see without scrolling. I can think of more than a few use cases where this new feature is problematic, not the least of which is if someone on your timeline posts NSFW content. I want my choice back, Twitter.

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