Sunday, May 20, 2012

Usability Review of Microsoft Social Network

Earlier today I was conducting a BUR (basic usability review) of but due to heavy traffic and a plethora of bugs and glitches, the site seems to be closed for fixes and head scratching.

Here are my initial observations:

(1) Can't find Upload Photos.

No photo gallery or albums for your profile? Haven't they been paying attention to Facebook, Pinterest or G+?

(2) Can't find Search for Users.

First thing you want to do on a social network is find people you follow on other sites and see what they're doing on the new one.

(3) Names of users have no identification like who they are, where they work, slogan.

If users had "Rock Musician", "Digital Artist", "CEO, Expandable Mandibles", "Occupy Atlantis", or some title that gave you a reason to check them out, it would facilitate user discovery.

I see no way to build a following, aside from email contact pestering.

(4) Find More button takes you to:

"Follow some interests to catch posts that might pique your curiosity" (music, food, travel, movies, art > Show More: tech, architecture, science, innovation, social, cars, sports, animals, games photoorange, kids, bcwa, seattle djs, start ups, cycling)

Everything is pre-checked, so I have to unclick them, then check what I want.

"Follow some of the most popular people on to get the latest."

Server overload: not working right now.

(5) UI is broken so I often can't scroll down to the action buttons to click. This is a horrible usability glitch.

(6) Search Interests > Web Design > InterestTopContributors error.

(7) Explore > Tech > only 3 people displayed.

(8) Drop down tool tip message: "Thanks for all the love and feedback on! We’re going to get to work fixing some issues you found, and open back up shortly!"

(9) Video Parties > Popular Parties > Socl Review

Viewing a usability review (screen shot tutorial) added by Chris Voss.

Not much to it, since seems really rough and raw, like Diaspora.

"Be careful what you search for, because your searches will be shared" -- oh dear!

Not a G+ Hangout, but "you can invite your friends to watch videos with you". Big deal.

Near top of right sidebar "People watching right now" with my avatar displayed with a few other people.

(10) To find people to follow, go to a popular geek like Robert Scoble and comb through who they are following.

(11) To indicate you like a person's message, click on the smiley face icon at far left under the message. It's the MS like button.

(12) Under a message, you'll see:

[smiley icon on its side = Like] | Comment | Riff | Tag | Share

(13) You can Edit a Message, but apparently, you can't Edit a comment like you can on G+. Facebook has the same problem.

UPDATE: I tried to Edit a message, but it doesn't seem to work. I did an Add Link again to that message, but no link is displayed.

(14) Jim Lewallen over at is very swiftly replying to my critiques. I appreciate that. I'm trying to help them fix the site. But there seems to have been zero usability testing done prior to this re-launch. Why would they release a site so full of glitches and error messages?

(15) In the Message text entry box, you cannot add a link apparently. Instead,there is an Add Link entry box. I typed in a remark in the Message area, then added a URL to the Add Link box, clicked Done, and it all disappeared. I was taken back to the Home page.

(16) No tool tip upon hover on actions. What does Riff mean? To find out, I clicked on Riff under one of my own posts. It seems to mean "engage in conversation", but there is already a Comment and Share button. Unfortunately, I can't escape this action, as there is no Cancel button.

Here is a copy and paste of my options:

You are riffing on the post "More photos from..." by Steven Streight

Add a message



Add Link


Click on items to add to post.

Enter a query in the search box above to see results.

(17) In the Message box "Write Message", there is your name in a field by itself (but appears you can type in another name -- to message someone?), then below that a message field "Add a message". The default is to message...yourself?

Right below "Add a message" pre-fill text in message box, there is a "Write Message" link that doesn't do anything because you're already doing that.

(18) No place to display links to all your other social networks, blogs, and websites.

I was told to add the URLs to my Bio, but it's not called a Bio, it's called "Create a brief introduction that will tell other users more about you". But the maximum length is 512 characters. So I just added my

After clicking Save, user dialogue text = "Your message has been saved." My message? It should have said "Your changes were saved."

(19) After a few hours, I returned to to see how they were doing. I'm worried. It's not going well at all over there. I saw above the Invite Friends button "You have 10 invitations left". I clicked around, trying to find a Video Party worth joining (watching a YouTube video is all it amounts to), failed to find anything, then saw "You have 3 invitations left".

I am discussing these issues with PM Jim Lewallen, hoping they can fix this site and make it work beautifully.

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