Twitter now has more than 145 million registered users, and sadly, most people still visit the social network through Twitter's default Web site.
In a blog post, Twitter Chief Executive Evan Williams wrote about changes in the way people are reaching Twitter. He trumpeted the social network's mobile apps for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. He noted that Twitter mobile users have jumped 62 percent since mid-April, and that 16 percent of new users start on mobile phones.
Nonetheless, in the last 30 days, 78 percent of unique users visited Twitter through its Web site, and 14 percent accessed the mobile version. No native or third-party apps came close.
Unfortunately, Twitter's Website stinks. I'm all for simplicity, but Twitter.com is primitive to a fault. When someone replies to your Tweets, you aren't notified. There's no way to view as string of replies in a single chronological timeline, so you end up piecing together conversations in reverse, like you're watching Memento. Photos are offloaded to separate Web sites like TwitPic, when they should really be embedded as pop-ups -- same with video. And when you hover the mouse over someone's name, it creates this obnoxious bubble that gets in the way of your timeline, despite a wealth of unused screen real estate on the left side of the screen.
These aren't new complaints, but they get harder to ignore as Twitter pushes out its own shiny native apps for iPhone, Blackberry and iPad. My goodness, those apps are beautiful. They do all the things described above that Twitter.com doesn't. At least someone at Twitter understands that the Web site isn't good enough.
I'm one of those people who sticks with Twitter.com for regular use, despite its problems. I've tried third-party desktop apps, like TweetDeck, and while there's nothing wrong with them, I'm just too lazy to fire up another program. The Web browser is my main piece of software, so it's just easier to open a new tab for Twitter, which sits neatly next to my Gmail tab and doesn't suck up considerable resources.
But the real problem for Twitter is not folks like me, who are going to use the service no matter what. Twitter really needs to be worried about people who try the social network, mostly likely through Twitter.com, and never come back. Certainly, some of those people just don't like the service, but I'm willing to wager that some of them are repulsed by the Web site.
Shameless plug: If you'd like to suffer with me, I'm @OneJaredNewman .