Sean Sperte takes exception to my views on Tweetbot:
The problem I now have with Ben’s perspective is that he’s confusing UI style for UX style. For instance he’s quick to dismiss some of Tweetbot’s features (like swipe to view conversations or list-as-timeline) as “a wrapper”, but I think those are true features – original functionality, unique to the app.
I almost wrote the entire article Sperte is referencing without mentioning Tweetbot, because honestly I didn’t want to have to defend my lack of love for Tweetbot — in the end the article was better with a concrete running example, so I left Tweetbot in. I stand by what I say, but I want to address a couple of points that Sperte and others have brought up.
But a Kia? Come on, that’s just mean-spirited.
Not my intention at all, it’s just that Kia is as generic of a car as you can get here in the U.S. and Ferrari is just about as unique as you can get. Saying that the style of a Ferrari is unique to a Ferrari is simply not true — Pininfarina does much of the body work, as does air forces around the car. What I am saying is that the official Twitter client is the Kia and Tweetbot is the Pininfarina wrapper around the Kia to make it look better.
The fact of the matter isn’t that pull to refresh is unique, or anything else about the official Twitter app. In fact the official Twitter app, right now, is about as bland as you can get. You can call gestures a unique feature if you invent using gestures — the iPhone did that for smartphones, Tweetbot didn’t. Tweetbot just came up for more things to remember — essentially taking Twitter for the iPhone and adding movements previously only seen in Rubik’s Cubes.
Jog this way, swipe here, tap fifteen times there and viola.
Gestures in the case of Tweetbot aren’t adding anything to the all important UX — in fact I would think they are detracting from it by straying so far from conventional iOS norms. Most apps recognize one swipe per table view item (the Tweet itself in this case), Tweetbots breaks that convention and recognizes two: both left to right and right to left. That’s not bad, or good — it is unique — but there is no way you can call that a feature when other apps achieve the same end result with less moves.
The best argument I have seen to the Tweetbot having no unique features stance that I take is that you can grab related tweets. For the life of me I don’t know how, or if, you can do that in the official Twitter app. That may be a unique feature, but I would guess that other Twitter apps implement this as well — it’s not something that Tapbots invented.
Sean’s right that I didn’t make a clear distinction between UI styling and UX style — but I don’t think those two things are as important to users as designers think they are. The thing that is most important is how well, and the enjoyment derived, from interacting with the app and my willingness to want to keep using the app.
Right now, for me, Tweetbot is only being kept on my phone so that I can easily see when it gets updated.