How CEO Dick Costolo helped design Twitter's new video feature

Twitter rolled out a new feature last week that lets people capture and upload 30-second video clips, and CEO Dick Costolo was essential to how it turned out.

A Monday blog post by Twitter engineer Paul Stamatiou explains how Twitter built, prototyped, and tested the feature.

The engineering team created a couple of early versions, then presented it to Costolo for feedback.

He told them the progress bar they’d built wasn’t good enough — it moved very slowly over the 30-second recording period, so users didn’t have a sense that anything was happening. There was also an issue with Android, where there was a one-second delay between hitting “record” and the recording actually starting; the progress bar called attention to that problem.

So, Stamatiou’s team kept working, eventually bringing on two people from Twitter’s dedicated prototyping team, Avi Cieplinski and David Hart. These prototypers are essential at Twitter, writes Stamatiou: “I can’t overstate how much these two sped up our pace of design exploration, validation and execution. They’re not just engineers or design-minded engineers; I consider them designers.”

Eventually they started testing the prototypes on real people, and once again uncovered another flaw that Costolo had already pointed out:

“By showing a mini-filmstrip for the longer segments, people were a bit confused and thought they could trim or split the segments. They became frustrated when they realised that wasn’t the case.”

The whole blog post is worth reading if you’re interested in software design, but it also shows that Costolo is a hands-on CEO who’s directly involved in product design, not just a numbers or operations guy.

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