While researching some information about user interfaces for video sharing websites I stumbled over a statement in an article at news.com by Alonso Vera of NASA Ames Research:

»Design is starting to change who succeeds and who fails. A few years ago that wasn’t true. If I had a better algorithm, I would win!«

I had a conversation about this yesterday. Users are fed up with lousy interfaces. Whenever I do a research into a UI field – mobile phones, websites, software applications – I run into these strange situations, that the user is left alone with an error message and litterally no practical advice what to do. It really baffles me, that obvious pitfalls are left open until release of the software or product and kept unadressed for month if not years. So if Design comes a market driver, that is a very good sign!

Example: If you are a Macintosh Users (and some are indeed) and you go to hi5.com – a music/video community website with 50 million users (!) and you want to upload a video file (one of the core features), you will be presented with a form where you can enter title, tags and category for your video. Fine.

Screenshot of a Hi5.com blooper

But after clicking you will see this error screen (above) telling you that someone named VideoEgg (What by the way do they have to do with it?) does not support the browser you are using and that you need to go to videoegg.com to check a list of supported browsers.

While I wondered that I was not presented with that list (or at least a link to that list) directly (Again when were Hyperlinks introduced to the World Wide Web??), I almost got angry after unsuccsessfully trying to find such a list anywhere on the proposed site. Remember: Hi5.com claims to serve 50 million users!

I took me half an hour to try all browsers available on my system – costing me time and quite some nerves AND money. And the effect of this really obvious and simple UI problem: I won’t give hi5.com a second shot on me or recommend that site.

What does that mean? Maybe the “web 2.0” market is one where idiots happyily buy stuff from slightly smarter idiots?

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