On Websites and Those Horrible Social Buttons

John Gruber, absolutely killing it on share buttons, particularly on Medium:

A website should not fight the browser. Let the browser provide the chrome, and simply provide the content. Web developers know this is right — these dickbars are being rammed down their throats by SEO experts. The SEO folks are the same dopes who came up with the genius strategy of requiring 5-10 megabytes of privacy-intrusive CPU-intensive JavaScript on every page load that slows down websites. Now they come to their teams and say, “Our pages are too slow — we gotta move to AMP so our pages load fast.”

I love Medium. I don't mean to be overly harsh on Medium, but he's right.

Share buttons — dickbars, in Gruber's parlance — are not only unnecessary, but they're starting to border on user-hostile. They're absolutely one of the worst things about the modern web experience, made a thousand times worse when they're also presented in a modal when the page first loads.

Gotta wonder about the actual savvy of all the marketing/design groups telling clients to do this. If your goal is to boost engagement this way, you're spending too much time on things that aren't the content.

Yet more notifications

You gotta give Facebook credit for trying new things in what seems like a quiet space. Last week, started getting these chat-like modal alerts for likes and comments on a post.

You still get badges in the top right, just like other notifications. But now also this. It seems both excessive and also weird that it's so very close to the chat experience, which in itself, weirdly, still isn't all-in on Messenger.


"How Facebook Squashed Twitter"

Ben Thompson at Stratechery

When it comes to “the empty spaces” most people don’t want to do work, but work is exactly what Twitter required. You had to know what you were interested in, know who to follow based on those interests, and then, to top it all off, you had to pick out the parts that you were interested in from a stream of unfiltered tweets; Facebook, in contrast, did the work for you.

Thompson's analysis of where Facebook overcame Twitter is fantastic, but I found this quote to be incredibly compelling. In essence, this is what I love about Twitter far more than Facebook. I wouldn't say that I've tuned my Twitter experience to be solely things I'm interested in, but it's something that I definitely miss when I find myself staring at my timeline. 

I hesitate to lump myself in as what Thompson refers to as an "early adopter of Facebook"—it was something you joined when you went to college—but his argument about the news feed's shifts are true.   I still hate "Top Stories" and the "here's another piece of clickbait that eight high school classmates like."

Twitter, on the other hand, feels less cluttered, more relevant.

Leslie Berland Joins Twitter as New CMO

Berland comes from AmEx, where she was EVP of marketing, advertising, and digital partnerships.

She's also the first new appointment to Twitter after the product, engineering, and HR heads left over the weekend.

I pull for Twitter more than any other social platform. Hoping the new blood under Jack Dorsey means throwbacks to the pre-2012 Twitter in a lot of ways—mostly for developers.

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Flurry says app usage up 58% in 2015. Still calls them "phablets."

From Flurry's Simon Khalaf:

In 2015 overall app usage grew by 58%. In this context, we define app usage as a user opening an app and recording what we call a “session.” With the exception of Games, every app category posted year-over-year growth with Personalization, News & Magazines and Productivity leading the way with triple-digit growth.

What was even more impressive is the majority of that growth rate came from existing users versus new users. In fact, in 2015, we estimate that 40% of the 58% total growth in sessions came from existing users, compared to 20% in 2014 and 10% in 2013. This jives well with the report we released last summer, showing a fast increase in mobile addicts.

Some interesting figures here from Flurry.

I'm dubious of this Personalization category they've created. To me, apps that "range from Android lock-screens to Emoji keyboards" seem a little too broad. There's no doubting what Khalaf posits here that the growth coming out of "Emoji apps" is a result of a user desire for customization, but what's the longevity of the category, really?

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