The recent change in the social network’s font and visual design had some users complaining of accidental unfollowing, eye strain and headaches.
Twitter says it is revisiting recent changes made to its user interface after complaints of confusion and inaccessibility.
Last week, the company rolled out a number of changes across its web interface and mobile apps. These included the introduction of its proprietary font, Chirp, as well as making some buttons and features more high contrast.
However, many of these changes attracted criticism. Some users noted that the ‘follow’ button’s colour scheme had been completely reversed, causing confusion and frequent accidental unfollowing. Previously, a colour-filled button indicated to a user that they already followed a given account, but a colour-filled button now signals that a user is not following someone.
the font change is whatever, but changing the Follow button from filled in if you follow to filled in if you don't, the precise opposite of the design expectation you taught users for years and years, is the kind of pointlessly confusing nonsense we've come to expect here. bravo
— Brian Merchant (@bcmerchant) August 11, 2021
sorry if i unfollow you. it’s not because the new buttons confused me, it’s because i don’t like you
— saira 🗡 (@sairaspooks) August 15, 2021
Love that they changed it so the follow button makes it look like you're already following them and the unfollow button makes it look like you're not following them yet.
— Justin Whang 🐙 (@JustinWhang) August 11, 2021
In a tweet on the Twitter Accessibility account, the company said it was “making contrast changes” because users “told us the new look is uncomfortable for people with sensory sensitivities”.
In a follow-up tweet, Twitter also said it had “identified issues” with the Chirp font for Windows users and was “working on a fix”.
Accessibility researcher Alex Haagaard noted that this is indicative of the contrasting needs of different groups of people from a user interface, or UI, perspective. Colour blind or vision impaired people can benefit from high-contrast design, but it acts as a barrier for people with photosensitivity, for example.
This is a great example of how some access needs routinely get centered over others within "accessible" processes!
High contrast is notoriously NOT accessible for many photosensitive & chronically pained folks. https://t.co/c1AQNkMvC0
— Alex Haagaard (they/them) (@alexhaagaard) August 11, 2021
Many Twitter users echoed this, saying that they would prefer the option to adjust individual UI features in order to best suit their needs and preferences, rather than having websites try to enforce a unitary experience for all visitors.
The Twitter Accessibility account said that the company welcomed the feedback it had been receiving about design changes and asked users to “keep it coming”.
“If you continue to experience painful eye strain or headaches/migraines because of the font, please check in with us again.”
This is not the first time a visual design change at the social network has drawn criticism from users. A 2019 redesign was met with mixed reactions.
2021 has been a busy year for Twitter so far, seeing it retire its disappearing-content feature Fleets after eight months, experiment with tweet monetisation, and expand spending on R&D for new products and features.