Tag: user experience

From the workshop: Don’t steal my Theme Options. Great writeup on theme options in Duet by Andy at the Theme Foundry. When you put this much thought and care into the settings of your product you are going to create a wonderful product.

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 WordPress.com Signups

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

With the addition of Windows Live Spaces sites moving to WordPress.com, 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 WordPress.com 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.