Twitter introduced a new, refreshed design to its browser and mobile apps, introducing a new color scheme and branded “chirp” font to give Twitter applications a more consistent feel – but the move seems to have backfired.
Just days after the changes were rolled out, Twitter was forced to back down and promised to roll back aspects of the redesign in response to user feedback.
On August 11th, the Twitter Accessibility account released the new updates “for colors and typography”, including “higher color contrast of buttons, links, focus”. [and] Easier reading thanks to the left-aligned text and more space between the texts. “
Despite the pursuit of “easier reading,” the main criticism seems to be of the font, which causes headaches that appear to decrease readability and increase the likelihood of users experiencing migraines or eye strain.
This has prompted Twitter to announce another redesign that will change the contrast levels that seem to be causing problems and say it will “listen and iterate”.
We’re making contrast changes to all of the buttons to make them easier on the eyes because you told us the new look is uncomfortable for people with sensory sensitivities. We listen and iterate. 13. August 2021
Analysis: How did Twitter fail with accessibility?
Twitter has been flooded with complaints about the changes in the past few days, while some users seem to have lost their ability to change the font size on their Twitter apps.
How did things go so wrong? Former Twitter employee Sana Rao – a former senior product designer at the company – told us that Chirp was just a small variation on an existing font, but that the platform wanted to create a more unique font to stand out from standard system fonts.
She also tells us that increasing the contrast of the text was likely intended to improve visibility for people with impaired vision – although the stark nature of this high-contrast redesign is now causing grief (and headaches) to others.
“Accessibility is a spectrum, and that seems well thought out, well designed, but only for part of that spectrum, not for everything,” says Rao. “However, it’s impossible to design the full spectrum, so it’s more important to give people the tools to do it themselves.”
Twitter clearly addresses the issue, and this clearly goes beyond the ordinary grumbling about iterative design changes – while the Follow button has its usual colors inverted and is shown as white when you’re following someone, this is a change we make will probably get used to it over time. Twitter users are likely to have less of a headache while trying to analyze posts.
A user also asks why Twitter didn’t design the app to allow users to change contrast, font, and size, “which is possibly a better way forward.
We’re expecting some “contrast changes” soon, and Twitter is certainly showing a willingness to respond to these issues. “Twitter also has its own accessibility account on the platform since March 2013, and it doesn’t seem like an afterthought for the company, either when the latest redesign has failed.
Another tweet added that “if you continue to experience painful eye strain or headaches / migraines due to the font, please contact us again” – a good feeling, although the platform is used to report issues during these Platform causing you a migraine can be a difficult task for some.