My New Go To Example Of “Missing The Point”
Yeah, I admit it, I use Quora. It’s on my daily rounds of Internet sites. I tend to hit the site a few times a day and answer questions and post comments when I have the time. I can’t say I am a huge fan, but it’s OK. I like the social aspect of it over, say, a topic oriented bulletin board or list. I like to see what other questions people I follow are following and answering. I come across some interesting questions and answers that way.
A few weeks ago, I noticed that my timeline—the first thing I see when I go to quora.com—was filling up with these messages about who followed who(m?) such as when someone I didn’t follow followed someone I do follow. Or that someone followed a topic. It got to the point where the top of my timeline was filled with these useless messages and buried the questions (what I came to Quora for in the first place) down the page or *gasp* below the fold.
I posted the question How Can I only get topics in my Quora Feed? Marc, a Quora employee, replied “You need to unfollow any people or questions that you are following now. Then you’ll only be following topics.”
That misses the point entirely. In a social site, users follow others because presumably they are interested in what those they follow are doing. I get that but that is the also the need to let users tailor their experience as they want it. Being told to drop the social aspect of Quora is silly.
What I really want, is to see in the timeline, what I want to see when I visit the site. I can always go look at the social side at other times. Take Twitters new @reply timeline on the web site. I can choose to see just replies to me (which is what I care about), or I can optionally see other activity relating to me (who followed me and what lists I have been added to). I can also look at the Activity timeline to see what is happening with those I follow.
I can see what I want to see when I want to see it. That’s the point.
Google, Ice Cream Sandwich And The UI Consistency Conundrum
An inconsistent UI is hard on users. In the case of Android, there are a lot of apps that have UI’s that are inconsistent with Android UI such as re-mapping hardware buttons or placing features normally access via hardware buttons on-screen and it makes using those apps, and Android in general, more difficult because users have to guess what to do next. Google has devoted quite a bit of time in developing guidelines and navigation tips to help developers build consistent apps. Perhaps this is where Apple succeeds by enforcing UI guidelines (I don’t use an iPhone, so I don’t know but it is what my buddies tell me).
Guidelines are guidelines and developers aren’t forced to follow them, but if Google won’t follow it’s own advice, why should developers?
I got a shiny new Galaxy Nexus. It’s a great phone and runs Android 4, aka Ice Cream Sandwich. With this big screen, I wanted to see what video formats it supported, so I, gasp, decided to see what Help had to say. I hit the Menu key and found Help.
Which opens the browser and takes me to the top of the help page.
Getting started seemed like a good place to start, so I end up here:
I won’t drag you through the rest of the clicks, but notice that I hit Help, opened a browser app, and navigated through the web pages. I then hit the back button. Where do you supposed I ended up? Where would you expect to end up? Back one page? Back to the top of the Help system? Back to the App?
Me? I expected to go back one page, because, ya know, I was in the browser and when I hit Back in any browser, I expect to go back one page. Here is where I landed when I hit the Back button:
Back to the app. That makes no sense. I am familiar with how Android’s App stack works, but I wasn’t leaving the app. That wasn’t my intention. I wanted to go back a page. To do that, I had to click the top most item which is a different step from what people would normally do. If I open the browser manually or from a URL and navigate pages, the Back key works properly and I go back one page. Now I have to remember “If using the browser to view Google Help, go find the link to take me back. If using the browser to view web pages, use the Back key.”
Bad Google. Bad.
When Word Wastes My Time
Here is a prime example if why people hate Word and Microsoft Office. For years, I have used Track Changes and comments to edit documents. I find these tools useful. Today, for some reason, Word decided on its own, to stop wrapping the comments box. I don’t know why. I don’t know how to change it (Options->Advanced->Word Wrap didn’t solve the problem) and it is wasting my time.