Twitter has taken a minor but annoying step back in the usefulness of its email notifications.
I have selected relatively few types of email updates to receive from Twitter, but one of the ones I had appreciated was notification that someone has sent me a direct message. And in the old days (meaning maybe a month ago), the text of the direct message was sent along with the email.
In the last week or two that has changed, and not for the good. Here’s a message I got yesterday:
Really, Twitter? You send me the alert, and you purposefully removed the content of the message?
This looks like something done to increase page views on Twitter.com, but not thinking of the users and what they need or prefer.
It’s a minor annoyance, and I didn’t say anything at first. But after having this happen a few times, I decided to take a few minutes for a post, because it relates to a larger point that applies to all of us.
Think about the changes you make in your online interfaces, and how they serve (or may annoy) users. Don’t make them work harder to get the information they need. You may have valid business reasons for your changes, but if you’re making withdrawals from your reservoir of customer good will and loyalty, the benefits may not be worth the cost.
Even more importantly, try not to get into these cost/benefit calculations. Just do the right thing for the customer (as Twitter generally has until this point.) Doing the right thing will be better for everyone (including you) in the long run.
I was disappointed to see Twitter swerve into this short-term thinking. It’s a good reminder for me to be sure that what we’re doing keeps users and their needs first.
Update (2/25/14): I just noticed that Twitter has returned to a more useful direct message email notification. Looking back through my deleted emails, it appears this happened back on Feb. 12 or 13.