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Taking cues from Twitter for iPad and New Twitter, HuffPost CTO Paul Berry redesigns NewsGlide
Huffington Post just launched the second version of its news iPad app, retreating from the look and feel of the standard HuffPost website and taking design cues from the new Twitter website and iPad app.
Paul Berry, CTO of Huffington Post, describes in detail the inspiration behind HuffPost 2.0, and the results, in a blog post on Huffington Post. What’s most interesting is how much Twitter inspired his work:
It's hard to believe how quickly the iPad has swept change. One of the biggest landmark moments for me in 2010 was the release of the new Twitter and the Twitter iPad app. It was important for a few reasons, in part because it signaled the moment when Twitter had become such a talent pool that it would, like Google and Facebook, inform the larger web design world. More importantly, for the first time, the iPad and the world of apps truly led to the redesign of websites, both in terms of visuals and user experience.
Here’s the Twitter and HuffPost 2.0 apps side by side, for comparison:
Nicknamed NewsGlide, the new Huffington Post iPad app is completely gesture-focused so that it’s really intuitive to browse through news stories from the front page. There’s a new focus on photos, too, to take advantage of the brilliant iPad screen. The front page is broken down into five basic categories--Top Stories, News, Blogs, Most Popular and Slideshows. Opening stories triggers sidebars from the right-hand side of the screen, much in the way that Twitter slides in supplemental content about tweets or users.
Initial reception of the app seems positive, according to Berry, who says usage of the app increased 1000 percent on its first day, meaning people were using the app 10 times more than before.
In spite of that, customer ratings aren’t very good for either version of the Huffington Post app. With 52 ratings, the current version garnered three stars out of a possible five. Version 1.0, had been rated over a thousand times, and garnered a two-and-a-half star rating.
Three customer reviews currently featured on the app’s iTunes page are all negative. Two argue that the app values design over content to a fault, something that could possibly be true considering how much Berry spends talking about design in his blog post. (To Berry’s credit, he’s talking about the iPad app, so there’s really no need to talk about content.) The third customer merely says he’s seeing a visual glitch across the screen.
The good news is that Berry and his team seem very open to user feedback. Berry says future iterations of the HuffPost app will focus on customizations that will enable users to choose the color of the app’s background or switch to a more text-oriented app, like Huff Post 1.0.
Here are some other updates to expect in future versions:
- search functionality
- full-screen article page views as an option that you can pinch and zoom into and then keep as your default
- the ability to customize the sections that you want to see at the top of your navigation list
- Big News topic pages that follow huge stories like WikiLeaks as they break and develop
- instant refresh so you can quickly see new stories as soon as they're published
- account creation as well as Twitter-based sign-in for commenting
Customers can email feedback directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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What is Twitter?
Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from Twitter.com, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests.
Where did the idea for Twitter come from?
Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.
How is Twitter built?
Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes.
We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.
How do you make money from Twitter?
There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.
In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within Twitter.com, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet.
At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.
Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on Virginamerica.com that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.
What's next for Twitter?
We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users.
We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.