So a new version of the official Twitter client for Mac came out over the last few days. By all accounts, this has been around, in Twitter’s labs, for some time, but they’ve only just bothered to release it.
I’ve used a few different Twitter clients on the Mac – these days I interchange regularly between Twitter and Tweetbot.
I’ve even got Twitteriffic installed on my Mac as well, just so I’m well covered:
One feature that seems depressingly common on Mac Twitter clients is an annoyingly minimalist and blinkered set of font options. Font sizes of “Smaller”, “Normal” or “Larger”? This isn’t McDonalds. “Tiny”, “Small”, “Medium”, “Large” and “Huge”? I’m not buying a t-shirt. Even the official Twitter client just gives me a simple list of font sizes.
How about a box?
A box where I can enter a font size? Of my own choosing?
It’s hardly the case that if I enter a font size too small or too large my computer is going to explode, or Apple will buy Microsoft and declare Windows 8 to be the new Mac OS 10.9. There’s protecting people from making dumb mistakes, and there’s binding them up so tightly they suffocate.
A statement, often attributed to Einstein (on the basis of a longer, more involved statement) is:
Make the system as simple as possible, but no simpler.
This has been cited by many in computer science as a guiding principle for interface and systems design. I’d argue that these Twitter client developers, taking away font choice, are violating this rule – they’re making the system simpler than it should be.
After all, if your app primarily exists to allow people to read text and compose it in reply, giving them control over the appearance of that text to maximise their comfort and enjoyment seems a pretty simple premise.