Ever since Twitter started increasing in popularity, there’s been a clear need for a more efficient way to manage groups of users than Twitter natively provides. We’ve seen desktop clients like TweetDeck and Seesmic build their own grouping functionality, as have standalone sites like WeFollow. TweepML has even created an open standard for managing and sharing groups of Twitter users. Today, you can add one more to the bunch: Twillist, a dead-simple site for building your own list of Twitter users.
Of course, Twillist’s release comes less than two weeks after Twitter announced that it would offer its own natively supported Lists, which are still in testing with a subset of users. So where does that leave Twillist?
Founder Michael Broukhim (who is also the co-founder of Totspot) says that the site plans to feature heavy integration with the upcoming new Twitter API features, with the intention of becoming the de facto place to create and find Twitter lists. The site will include added features like the ability to see which shared links are most popular in a given list, embeddable lists that you can share on your blog, the ability to collaborate on Lists with friends, and a feature that would let you see which Twitter users appear in the most lists. These features would all certainly come in handy — at this point it’s a matter of where users are going to turn to to find them.
Twillist is easy to use, and can effectively serve as an alternative to Twitter’s web interface. At the top of the page is a box where you can tweet new messages, along with a menu containing all of the lists you’ve created. Clicking one of the lists will bring you to a page that looks similar to your normal Twitter feed, except it only shows tweets from the members of the list. Creating a list is simple too: just enter what it should be titled, as well as their user names (you can add more people to the list later on, too). My only gripe with the process is the lack of an autocomplete function, so you’ll have to make sure you’re spelling each name correctly.
Twillist is quite well done, with a simple but good looking interface and straightforward functionality. That said, it’s certainly got its work cut out for it: along with the aforementioned grouping/list sites that already exist, we’ll likely see quite a few other sites spring up that look to become the authoritative site for Twitter Lists. And this all assumes that Twitter isn’t intending to make a hub of its own, which is hardly a given. But for now, Twillist offers a good way to create and use Lists on Twitter, before they’re actually available through the service itself.