Don’t give your users shit work

Some peo­ple still like shit work. They can spend an hour mov­ing Twit­ter accounts to spe­cial Lists, and then at the end of it look back and say “Boy, I spent an hour doing this. I really accom­plished a lot today!” You didn’t. You did shit work…

The same is true in any prod­uct. We need to get out of this idea that the act of spend­ing time on a project means that you spent your time wisely. Some­times you’re just wast­ing your time.

Zach Hol­man — Don’t give your users shit work

What are your product’s goals?

Marco Arment writ­ing about Amazon’s goals with the Kin­dle:

I agree: it does seem like those were Amazon’s goals. They now have an inex­pen­sive tablet that makes it extremely easy for its users to buy more from Amazon.

Note the appar­ent absence of goals such as “Make a great read­ing expe­ri­ence” or “Make a great portable video player”. It serves Amazon’s busi­ness goals (assum­ing it sells), but it doesn’t serve its cus­tomers’ goals well.

Trying to cancel a Spotify account

I’ve used Rdio for about a month now. Ear­lier I wrote how much I love the ser­vice. I still do, it’s tremen­dous. When Spo­tify launched in the US I fig­ured I’d sign up for their pre­mium account and give it a shot for a month.

After a few weeks of using the ser­vice it’s clear that it’s not for me. I don’t like how Face­book deter­mines the entire social graph. 1 I don’t like how it auto­mat­i­cally crawled my iTunes library with­out my approval. 2 Mostly though I just didn’t like the ser­vice as much as Rdio.

Since my pre­mium account was $9.99 a month I wanted to can­cel it while it was fresh on my mind. Turns out Spo­tify makes it pretty dif­fi­cult to do this. You first have to head to your sub­scrip­tions page. There you see this:

Silly me for think­ing I’d find a nice “Can­cel” link on that page. You have to go all the way to the bot­tom where you’re able to view your options for leav­ing. Okay, that’s not ter­ri­ble. A bit obtuse of a UI, but I’ve seen worse.

That “View your options” link then takes you to this screen:

Alright, that’s just lame. I’m try­ing to end my paid sub­scrip­tion. I clearly already know what a pre­mium sub­scrip­tion to Spo­tify offers because I already dealt with all the mar­ket­ing copy when sign­ing up. Bom­bard­ing me with the bul­let points again seems desperate.

There’s still no can­cel link though. I guessed that it was the “Why do you want to leave?” bit all the way down at the bot­tom. Turns out you have to go to this page where you then have options for telling Spo­tify why you are cancelling.

In con­trast, Rdio has a Sub­scrip­tions tab in my account set­tings. There, right at the bot­tom high­lighted in red text is a but­ton that reads “Can­cel sub­scrip­tion.” Sim­ple. Easy. Intuitive.

When pay­ing for web ser­vices trust is a huge fac­tor. It may seem counter intu­itive, but the eas­ier you make it for users to leave the more likely they are to stay. They’ll sim­ply trust you more for being upfront with them. Rdio under­stands this. Spo­tify clearly does not. Don’t hide vital account func­tions like can­cel­la­tion behind tongue in cheek ques­tions like “Why do you want to leave?” I know why, just let me do it and get out of my way.


  1. A Face­book account which I don’t have.
  2. That part def­i­nitely wasn’t cool, my local drive is sep­a­rate from your web ser­vice, keep your hands off of it.

Doubling Signups

Win­dows Live Spaces has dou­bled the num­ber of monthly signups at Quite the busy last few months for us.

With the addi­tion of Win­dows Live Spaces sites mov­ing to, Win­dows Live users who are new to blog­ging com­ing here, and word-of-mouth from our cur­rent and very pas­sion­ate users, the num­ber of peo­ple join­ing has dou­bled to over 900,000 per month (up from around 400,000 per month before the migration).

Slow reading and poor content design

The Guardian pub­lished an arti­cle a few days ago dis­cussing the con­cerns of some aca­d­e­mics over mod­ern read­ing habits. It cen­ters around the idea that, for some, read­ing online is an inher­ently shal­lower process that leaves a per­son less edu­cated than read­ing tra­di­tional print texts.

This mis­placed con­cern does not account for the ani­mated ads, com­mer­cial con­tent, and con­stantly grow­ing hodge­podge of but­tons sur­round­ing stan­dard con­tent online. Put this same inter­face garbage on a printed page and I would not be able to focus on a text either.

For a tra­di­tional media out­let to decry the per­ils of read­ing online it ought to at least place blame in the right space. The Guardian, and other media out­lets, that plas­ter ads and irrel­e­vant con­tent around their arti­cles are not inno­cent bystanders to this loss of atten­tion span.

There are no small changes

Des Traynor on the small things in design­ing a user experience:

There are no tiny fea­tures when you’re doing things prop­erly. This is why as a UX designer you need a good under­stand­ing of what it takes to imple­ment a fea­ture before you nod your head and write another bul­let point.