Walk Away Feeling Good Or For Good
User Experience (Ux) requires that stakeholders and developers remain nimble and always ready to make the right decision of putting users and customers above product and service – from the start.
I mean really, product and service success depends not on just solving a problem, but on a user's ability to use that solution and walk away feeling good about it.
Just a quick snapshot on how this was driven home for me this past week.
A text editor that I use for writing code and building stuff for the web was the first link in an esoteric bug that left me scratching my head. This was a known editor and IDE that works from iOS and Mac environments. I really need a solid editor that integrates well between mobile and desktop.
This editor is a solution though that missed one important feature in its product life cycle. It didn't integrate with Dropbox. I use many other editors, including some very basic ones that specifically target Markdown usage – all of which support Dropbox. I was left asking how a modern IDE could leave Dropbox (DB) out of the picture. Oh well …
That product decision meant that I had to access DB using WebDAV, which in turn lead me to another middleman solution that easily provides this WebDAV support between my text editor and DB.
Solutions for solutions. Well it worked and I'm all for work-arounds that work.
However, when I was teaching someone some code which required collaboration, I really needed DB to work from within my IDE. The problem I ran into though was that a simple .html file that sat on DB could not be successfully viewed from my text editor over WebDAV. Something had broken, somewhere in the chain of solutions.
The next problem was trying to identify the responsible party of the root cause. Was it the developer team of my text editor, the middleman solution providing the WebDAV connectivity, Dropbox or simple user mistake (which would still mean that a UX problem exists somewhere in this chainlink of solutions).
The text editor team responded quickly over Twitter to my questions. I was pointed to the middleman WebDAV solution. That developer was away from Internet connectivity, yet when he responded, he verified that an issue had existed, but was now fixed.
A day and half later, I still have not seen my problem fixed though. DB finally responded too over Twitter. I provided some details and await their response now.
I really commend companies and developers who respond to issues over Twitter. It shows that they do care about the user experience.
I guess my main concern is that if my text editor had implemented DB support, which I'm sure would have been requested by other users before me, I might not be experiencing this esoteric work-flow interrupting bug now. Ok, I'm pragmatic – there will always be bugs. However, when a product starts out eliminating the need for solutions to solutions, it's on a better UX path.
The text editor dev team did respond that DB would be implemented in a future version of their product. Now I'm left wondering if this will be a paid upgrade version or a sorry-we-left-this-feature-out-free update.
UX should not be this difficult.
Yet it is for many.
When I was brought face to face with IFTTT (IF) and its redesign, I again was faced with bugs and usability issues. IFTTT is a popular service that really is a solution for solutions – connecting other services together.
Now it's a bit muddled with key term changes, layout changes, very little onboarding communication, and broken features.
Its App Store reviews have dived to 1-2 stars now. There's way too much noise and unnecessary screen real estate that just adds to the apps learning curve. Recipes (now applets) that worked before are often broken now.
I'm sure things will smooth out over time.
User Experience requires that stakeholders and developers remain nimble and always ready to make the right decision of putting users and customers above product and service – from the start.
Users and customers need to walk away from products and services feeling good – not walk away for good.
[Update]: My text editor issue was resolved. It was the WebDAV provider. The developer fixed that issue and was very helpful. I will continue to use it, my text editor, and even IFTTT. I just would like to see UX baked well from the start.