Desire Path Design — Twitter Threads
Tweet Threads — or tweetstorms — have defined Twitter since the practice became popular in 2014–15, to the point where Twitter trademarked the term. This article advocates that Twitter look at this feature as a “desire path” feature that its power users have popularized; as well as offer some feature solutions for how Twitter should cater to the users who want to create this vital part of the platform.
The Twitter Thread was popularized by Marc Andreseen and Chris Dixon, and they originally started as a simple way to get around the 140 character limit and share longer thoughts. If you run out of space, all you need to do is reply to your own tweet and it will automatically create a thread, making it easier to read and allowing users to share longer thoughts:
Twitter users quickly turned Threads from a simple hack to tweet longer into a real medium. Threads can be suspensful and enthralling, like in the viral thread from 2015, Zola’s story; reporters are able to report news with more nuance without making people click out of Twitter; and threads proved great comedic timing to elevate jokes.
Twitter Threads are a typical Desire Path feature. Users are driving the product forward by finding new and innovative ways to use the medium; and Twitter has created features in response to the the way people are using threads as opposed to proactively creating innovative thread features.
Much like hashtags, threads first emerged as a hack by power users, until Twitter finally built features into the system
The way Threads developed is reminiscent of another Desire Path feature: the hashtag. It was proposed by Google emplooyee Chris Messina and while Twitter originally rejected the hasthag, the feature gained popularity among users until it became one of Twitter’s defining features.
Twitter has added some features to make reading threads a little bit easier, by connecting them with a bright blue line and making sure when you click into a threaded tweet, you see the oldest tweet on top, the complete inverse of the usual reverse chronological order.
Creating threads, however, is one of the glaring missing spots in this feature. The ‘correct’ way to create a thread is to reply to your own tweet; but not everyone is exactly clear on how they’re supposed to do it. Do you reply to the original tweet? Each subsequent one? How are you supposed to number them? Some people just send out 10 loose tweets and it’s impossible to read.
Enter Tweet Threader:
Tweet Threader was created with the intent of being the easiest way to create Twitter Threads. Just like in twitter, threads are created tweet by tweet; but Tweet Threader takes away all the guesswork and just lets you write.
Check it out and if you find it useful, share it with other people. We have ideas on better ways to read Twitter Threads, and we want to build them if there’s interest.