The Discovery Engine Is Coming

Thursday, 2 April 2009

A few weeks ago we started testing Twitter Search in the web interface for a subset of folks. We had the search box way up near the top of the page and the results on a separate page. It turns out that’s not the awesome way to do it. The best way to experience Twitter Search is when it’s a natural part of your normal Twitter experience.

The Discovery Engine Is ComingReal-time results for ‘coffee,’ saved search for ‘stephen colbert,’ and Trends

Old Idea, Awesome Experience

We went back to the original sketch and made everything far more awesome. Currently, a small subset of Twitter users are trying this new search feature in the sidebar of their Twitter home page. When you do a search, you don’t go to another page, the relevant tweets instantly show up where you’d expect them to—right on your home page where tweets love to be.

The Discovery Engine Is ComingSearch integration sketch from early July 2008

This way of experiencing search is aligned with Twitter’s simple approach. Normally, the tweets you would see on your home page are from sources of information that you have curated over time—in other words, the accounts you chose to follow. When you use search, you’re asking for any tweets that contain the word or phrase you’re interested in right now.

Saved Searches and Trends

We’ve added a few other features to this design. If there’s a search you want to do on a regular basis, you can “save” the search. That will place the word or term permanently in your sidebar for easy access. So if you want to know what people are saying about the city you live in, the products you use, or just something weird, it becomes a link on your home page.

Twitter Search is an engine for discovering what is happening right now but it doesn’t always have to be a box and a button. Trends are words or phrases being referenced with more frequency suggesting that something interesting might be happening. When you click on a trend link, you can read the tweets and find out what’s up. Trends is in beta—but it has potential.

Give It To Me Now!

We are loving this implementation of Twitter Search and the technical infrastructure to support it is mostly in place. We’ll gather a bit more feedback from our test group and then get these features out to everyone as soon as possible. As always, Search and Trends are part of the Twitter API so developers can continue making super cool Twitter applications.