“In the Moment” Shopping on Twitter


Buy now is the first phase of Twitter’s commerce explorations. To better facilitate some of the commerce activities already happening organically on Twitter, the goal for initial launch was to enable product purchasing from a Tweet, and to see how merchants & consumers make use of it.

Capture short attention spans

On average, Twitter users spend only a few minutes looking at their timelines per session.  The nature of Twitter means the shopping experience should be “in the moment”: Products need to be affordable, fun, and inspiring to entice compulsive buys. The end-to-end purchase flow should be straightforward and lightweight so customers can make a purchase even during a quick check of their timelines. To achieve this, we tried not to deviate customers too far from their timelines, and collect the least amount of information needed to complete the transaction. 

Buy now flow on web.

Speed vs. Sense of Security, Simplicity vs. Scalability

A purely fast checkout experience in the initial launch turned out to be less than ideal: Through user research we learned that people felt the whole flow was so fast they were not sure whether the order was successfully placed. Some also expressed concerns that they had placed orders by mistake.

The strategy of collecting as little information as possible also turned out to be difficult to scale, since different merchants have different requirements as to what is a minimum set of information needed. We knew it was time to redesign the transaction flow when the team got requests to conditionally tweak the original flow on a merchant-by-merchant basis. 

The redesign focused on keeping the overall flow fast,  but also setting expectations so users aren’t unpleasantly surprised; capturing a set of information that meets all major merchants' requirements, but also automates as much of the input process as possible; and incorporating 3rd party payment methods like Apple Pay.

We tested a few explorations with different presentations to ask for information, and different sequences of information collection. With insights from testing we were able to finalize on one flow that reached the right balance. 


Donate from a Tweet

With the existing backend and lessons learned from the Buy Now project redesigns, the team launched Donations soon after. In addition to the easy payment flow, the design focused on building a connection between the cause and the donor. 

Donations flow.

My Role & Credit

For Buy Now’s initial launch, I designed its web version and emails. Charles Martucci was the designer for Buy now on iOS. Both Buy Now’s redesign (only on iOS) and Donations (responsive web) were lead by me. Michael Morgan was the researcher during initial launch, and John Cheng was the researcher during the redesign.