One of the biggest obstacles for new users to Mastodon has been the multi-column UI. For users accustomed to the single-column layouts of Twitter or Tumblr, Mastodon’s multi-column layout can be overwhelming. At Mastodon, we want users’ first-day experience with us to be a positive and accessible one! A UI that feels cluttered or that leaves users confused dramatically reduces the chances that they will come back to Mastodon as a regular user. It was clear to us that the multi-column layout was impeding this accessibility.
So, we are happy to introduce the new single-column layout. Instead of seeing multiple columns side by side the new single-column layout turns the Home, Notifications, Local, and Federated timelines into their own tabs within the single column that you can easily access by clicking on the tab name or—if you are on a tablet—swiping left and right. The new single-column layout reduces visual clutter and lets you focus on the specific part of Mastodon you want to engage in. We also hope that by reducing visual clutter the new single-column layout also makes the relationship between the Home, Local, and Federated timelines clearer.
For new users this new interface provides an easier and more familiar way to join the fediverse without sacrificing the special features of the fediverse itself. For returning users it provides a new way to use Mastodon that provides greater accessibility in general. Notably, we haven’t cut any features with this new layout. Everything you love about Mastodon is still accessible, just in a new user-friendly interface. But for those users who prefer the old layout it can still be enabled on the Appearance Preferences page by clicking “Enable advanced web interface”—it’s not going away anytime soon.