Ever since Twitter CEO Elon Musk took over the social media platform, users have been flocking to alternatives like Mastodon to see if they could be a suitable replacement for Twitter.
Users have moved for a variety of reasons, such as Twitter’s Blue subscription service made available for $8 / £7 / AU$9 (opens in new tab) and offering subscribers Blue Ticks, before hastily taking them away after a few days, and an increasing number of bugs plaguing users, such as the app crashing and images refusing to load, which I’ve been experiencing lately.
Beehive (opens in new tab) has recently been touted as another alternative, which looks like a cleaner version of Mastodon’s official app, and it comes with some nice extra features, such as the ability to add music to your profile. Still, there’s something about Mastodon’s community that keeps drawing me back to that social media platform and trying out the various third-party apps developers have been working on to make it easier to use.
While Mastodon is more welcoming to new users, there are still three features it needs to do quickly to become Twitter’s successor before another platform like Hive catches up.
1. Redesign and Rename ‘Servers’
While it has become easier to log in and log into a Mastodon server, the use of the term “Server” puts Mastodon in danger of alienating some new users as it may be too “technical” or sounds too complicated.
Instead, the team could call it “Communities” and perhaps let new users automatically join so they can try out the service. The feed in this ‘Community’ can then show new accounts how to use Mastodon, while existing users can also share tips and advice with newcomers.
Users want to connect with each other without much effort, and Mastodon still needs a lot of this – and that needs to change soon.
2. Add some color and shine
Currently, Mastodon’s design is too sharp, too angular, and too dark. If you switch to dark mode in the official app, it’s almost a copy of Twitter, especially with the icons.
I want to see ways to customize the user experience in Mastodon by letting users change fonts and colors, similar to how Bebo, a 2008 social platform, would allow you.
This would give Mastodon a lot more personality as users could design their profiles and share them with others. It would also be a nice break from Twitter’s rather boring profiles, which all look the same.
3. Make it fun
We use these apps not only to keep in touch with family and friends, but also to have fun.
Mastodon currently lacks this, and for young people that could be a problem. For example, if images in a post don’t load (which I’ve noticed happens often), Mastodon looks rather plain and boring, which could put off a lot of people.
Let’s look at some new features to better differentiate it from Twitter, Discord and Hive, such as being able to edit posts or ways to choose different fonts and colors to make what you share stand out.
Aside from Twitter Spaces, there’s not much difference between Twitter and Mastodon once you get past the login screen, and that needs to change to appeal to a bunch of new users who are growing weary of Musk’s near-daily (and increasingly chaotic) announcements on Twitter .