Friday, September 21, 2012

New Blogger and Unimproved User Interfaces

The "new Blogger" has been forced on everyone recently, just as the Facebook Timeline was. They warned us for a few months, gave us a chance to try it out, and I immediately reverted to the old Blogger interface. Clients are puzzled, one said "my Blogger just went bonkers!"

It would be nice if platform developers actually listened to user complaints and suggestions, then really improved the interface and added user-requested features. But that's not what happens. Interfaces are scrambled, 3rd party apps are imitated, glitches occur, what was obvious and intuitive becomes confusing and obtuse.

Functions are disorganized, some becoming hidden within gear icons, forcing you to guess their location, and click to view a drop down menu. Text links become mysterious icons, legible black text is faded out to hard to read light gray text on white backgrounds, and stuff nobody wants is pushed at you.

I have never seen an interface redesign that made me think, "Wow. This is so much better than the old design. I can accomplish a lot more, faster, and easier." Instead, I have to see the new interface as an obstacle course, a game, a challenge. Eventually, I master it and adjust to it. But this is not what innovation is all about.

Change is supposed to be about progress and improvement, not convolution and increased difficulty.

Do coders need to justify their salary? Do they get bored with the proven success? Are they tired of looking at a design that users understand and like?

Do they say, "Hey boss, I think our users are tired of simplicity and usability. Let's violate web norms, change things around just for the sake of change, force a new interface on everybody without usability testing it on typical users, disrupt their contentment and productivity, make them relearn the system, and call it an upgrade."?

This is the common strategy: take a perfectly good, simple, easy to use interface...and mess it up, then call it an "upgrade". When Twitter convoluted their interface, I pretty much quit using Twitter, after being a big fan since it first began, having followed Robert Scoble's lead.

All you can do is roll with the punches.

Blogger remains the best blogging platform around. Google owns it, so Google gives SEO preference to Blogger blogs. Also, I have never heard of a Blogger blog being hacked.

So we spend valuable time learning a new, unimproved interface because that's what the platform has forced upon us, without giving us the option to always be able to revert to the old interface. This is what we have to do, there's no getting around it. Once we master the new interface, life can go on.

But I dream of a day when new interface designs are real improvements to enjoy, rather than nuisances to endure.

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1 comment:

Merle Widmer said...

Steven, your 100% right. I have trouble even scrolling up or down and getting my spell check to checks the spelling of the entire blog, not just 5 or 7 pages.

Thanks for your help today.