An Update from the Road with Twitter’s On the Road

Twitter design researcher Mark Trammell posted an update on the Twitter Blog on the microblogging service’s On the Road initiative, which is described on its Twitter page as, “On a whirlwind tour across North America. Asking how folks discover what’s happening.” From Trammell’s update:

Most everything we design and build at Twitter is refined or even created after watching how people use Twitter. So as a design researcher, I couldn’t be more thrilled to be one week into a three-week-trip across North America to better understand real-life Twitter-usage and learn what we can do to continue improving the service.

User research typically is focused on how an individual uses a computer or device. Alternatively, you have the classic focus group comprised of strangers. The former can be too limiting, and the latter doesn’t represent how people actually (and truthfully) interact in real life.

With Twitter, observing how different deeply connected peer groups of people use the service is critical to understanding the true dynamics of use. To do this, we need to get out in the world and watch how groups like friends, co-workers, and enthusiasts use Twitter to get information and interact with each other.

We already had some great sessions with entrepreneurs in Montreal building a community among small businesses; members of New York City’s art scene sharing a world once confined inside museum walls; and, folks at @WhiteHouse and on Capitol Hill providing a view into the inner workings of government and how they use Twitter to demystify it.

Up next? Atlanta and Memphis, then west to Wichita, Denver, and Salt Lake City — with a whole bunch of stops in between. We’re doing this all out of an old RV and a shoestring budget. Follow our adventures @OnTheRoad.

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