Being in the design business since more than 10 years, both from a technical and later from a management point of view, I can really say that user experience is something that is never valued too much. The ability of a user – be it a potential customer or a simple visitor – to experience something unique, valuable but mostly easy is what should be on top of any designer of any product, from the web to furniture to electronic devices to really anything at all.
Ease of use has been the fundament of the whole iPhone ecosystem, a way for users to feel at home even with a device that’s never been experienced before, something so easy and intuitive that even 3 years old kids can use it no problem, because it just feels right, natural.
Sometimes these user experience breakthrough can change a whole lot of subsequent inventions, sometimes they go unnoticed for various reasons.
The worst, though, is when the experience itself is so negative it can seriously punish you for just trying, especially in the case of actual customers.
Examples of this? Think about the whole copy protection industry. You buy a game for 50, 60 euros, and then you receive a key bound to your current system configuration, changing which you will have to ask for a new one. Or you end up with a compromised system. I could go on for a hour but I am sure you know what I mean.
And it’s not limited to software sadly. I recently decided to buy some video tutorial for some music synthesis software I use ’cause I was tired of reading freely available stuff which, for how good, felt kinda limited. So I go to this famous website to buy their video, and seconds before I click all the right buttons, my eye is caught in a little text:
“Internet connection for Downloadable tutorial and internet product authorization required – up to 3 computers. Authorization and De-Authorization permitted to allow moving tutorial to different computers.”
Ok, wait a second. Authorization for a video? How? Simple, the video isn’t a video at all, it’s a program (now the Mac and PC compatibility checklist makes sense) which contains the video. Practically I was going to pay not to own the video, but to own the license of a program running the video. So I can’t watch it on my TV, or iPad, or nothing like that, I need a computer. This is frankly unacceptable, I don’t care wether or not you’re afraid your video will get pirated (because
it has been it will be anyway, trust me), these kind of choice punishes the legit users far more than the illegal downloaders.
Thankfully, on the web we haven’t got this kind of behavior right? Not exactly, but we have similar ones, which seem specifically designed to destroy the experience of our visitors. Examples? I’ll give you 7 of them:
Unless you have outstanding reasons to use Flash (which I can’t think of, mind you, but hey let’s admit you do), embrace 2011 already
Those are the spawn of the devil, I can understand the reason behind them, and even if some are truly genius, it’s generally a good way to piss people off and turn them away from your website/blog, forever
3) Endless registration forms
Yep I know, we use them too, but I swear we’re moving to a smarter system which require info just when strictly needed. If people are forced to fill in full-page forms, they are much less inclined to end up buying from you, that’s for sure
4) Speaking of registration forms
What about absurd requirements for passwords? I mean, I can live with 6-chars minimum. But why put the max at 8? or 10? Why force me to use a letter, a number and a japanese kanji inside the same password? Inform me my password sucks -> GOOD. Force me to use an insane one -> BAD. Why is it so important? One word: mobile. The quickest way to sign up to a website while on the go is to explicitly choose a lame password, just for quickness, to change it later. I really don’t have time to think something smart and note it down, because I will inevitably forget it
5) HTML resizing of huge images
What does this mean? You have a 4000×4000 pixels image, 50 MB heavy, but you need to put it in a small version on your website. You have two options:
a) You fire up Photoshop or similar programs and you actually resize it, save it, and upload it, voila’
b) You just upload it and force it small with the <img> HTML width and height tags. Hey, it works the same no?
If you selected b), congratulations, you won the Interweb.
6) Implementing smart tricks
Like blocking the right mouse button, yeah that’s totally going to stop me from copying your HTML source, but it will also stop me from visiting your website, just so you know
7) Auto-play music
The problem is so bloody real there’s even a Chrome extension to help you prevent it.
I didn’t put up just 7 reasons because they are the only ones I can find, just because hey, I want to leave you something to do. Any taker?