X Media™ Company

X Previews Upcoming UI Change Which Will Hide All Action Buttons

Whether you like it or not, the platform formerly known as Twitter is about to take another significant step away from its previous identity, by implementing a major UI update that’ll remove all response buttons from the main view, instead hiding them behind action-based cues.

Last month, X owner Elon Musk confirmed that his new vision for the app UI is coming, which will see the reply, like and re-share buttons removed from X posts in-feed, leaving only the total view count and time posted for each.

X view counts

Now, X has also provided a preview of how users will engage with posts within this new system:

As you can see in this example, shared by X engineer Christopher Stanley, with the new, stripped-back feed UI, users will need to tap and hold on a post to bring up the action buttons. You’ll then be able to interact with the post via all the usual options.

Users will also be able to swipe to reply or Like a post even faster, meaning that all the current options will still be available, even if they’re not presented right before your eyes.

Which seems like an unnecessary change, and a big shift for X users to get used to. But Musk says that it will make the feed “very clean”, while also ensuring optimal use of pixels on the X interface.

But I don’t know. At a guess, I would assume that this will reduce overall engagement in the app, because users won’t have the options so readily available, and many won’t have any idea of how to use these new engagement process.

Indeed, that’s exactly what happened back in 2020, in the lead-up to the U.S. election, when Twitter decided to remove the option to retweet posts entirely for U.S. users, as part of a broader effort to combat the amplification of false reports. People could still quote tweet, but the removal of an immediately present retweet button caused a 20% reduction in tweet sharing overall.

Because the button wasn’t there, so it was no longer as easy to use. And as a result, people just didn’t bother trying to find an alternate solution.

I suspect that this update will have a similar impact, at least in the immediate term, though X seems confident that people will get used to the new UI, and will eventually adapt accordingly.

But again, I don’t know.

It could, however, also address a key, lingering concern, in that the retweet option does make it too easy to amplify content. That, in the end, could end up being a positive, but it’s unlikely to help X drive more engagement or interest.

Which is what it really needs right now.

X has been sitting on 250 million daily active users for 17 months and counting, while various reports suggest that X is gradually losing its audience, as Threads continues to gain. X’s user count isn’t plummeting, but according to its latest E.U. disclosure statement, for example, X lost almost a million active users in the region over the past six months.

Which, when you’re talking about 250 million daily actives, isn’t a big deal, but it’s this kind of slow leakage which could point to Threads, and other real-time social alternatives, stunting X’s growth. And eventually, potentially, reversing it.

Add to this the fact that X’s ad revenue intake is reportedly still down 50% on previous levels, and it’s hard to see why those brands might be looking to come back, if X isn’t growing, and isn’t seemingly offering new opportunities.

An overall decline in user engagement would be another blow, but maybe, there’s a longer-term vision for the app that only Elon can see, which will make weathering the initial blowback just another bump in the road.

Elon’s original projections saw X reaching 600 million users by 2025, on its path to becoming a billion-user app.

Maybe that’s still possible, but it’s hard to see as yet.

But then again, if Elon can get an additional $6 billion in funding for xAI, which is a subsidiary of X Corp, that might also provide additional capital to keep X going for a while yet.

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