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Let’s put this to bed.
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks trying to find a decent replacement for iTunes.
The reasons why I want to abandon the world’s most popular music download service are many and varied.
iTunes is a deeply flawed experience. It's impersonal and slow, with lack of support for different file formats. It has a stubbornly rigid pricing model and no browser access whatsoever.
In fact I rarely use the platform to download. Instead I use a collection of different digital download sites to purchase MP3s online.
Yet I still use iTunes almost exclusively to organise and access my songs on both desktop and smartphone.
Surely there’s an easier way. Well I’m going to try and find one. For the good of you, me and the music loving public of the world.
As of June 2013, iTunes achieved 575m registered users and it’s adding 500,000 new accounts every day.
There is no denying the power and ubiquity of Apple’s digital music service, after all it has transformed the way that everyone on the planet consumes music.
It’s by no means a flawless experience however...
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression 'Never work with children or animals' right? Well, after you’ve read this lot, I reckon you’ll want to add participants, facilitators and even clients to this list.
You see, since my last blog I’ve spent a few weeks “playing journalist” sourcing weird, wonderful and downright bizarre stories from the UX (User Experience) Community.
The idea came to me while I was telling a friend how I had to sit throughout a whole study earlier this year in Norway, trying not to crack up every time a participant had to fill in his name on a form. Thing is, he was doing it with such a straight face that for a long time I thought it really was his name. Which it obviously couldn’t have been.
So it got me thinking that there must be other amusing or even downright weird experiences that my fellow UX practitioners might like to share with me... and share they did! OK, some took a little cajoling but I got there in the end.
They’re all anonymous and I hope you at least find them interesting, even if they might not tickle you as much as they tickled me.
Deciding what approach to take on mobile is a debate-worthy topic, as proved by the comment thread in this post on responsive design.
Marks and Spencer has a new site that is tablet-optimized, adapting to the iPad and its competitiors via device recognition rather than screen size. The brand has also updated its apps and mobile sites.
I thought I’d take a look at the mobile site in order to highlight a few nice features. It looks as good as the new desktop, tablet-optimized site, and I found it worked well, aside from a few niggles.
Of course, displaying large and high quality product ranges to their full potential on mobile is a challenge.
See what you think.
The importance of a strong online presence exponentially increases as time goes on. Companies need to follow their audience into the digital space and provide them with the optimal experience online.
However, just creating a website isn’t enough; there needs to be careful consideration into your target audience, their optimal experience and how you can affect it.
Using the 11 attributes of usability, one can determine how to present digital content that will best satisfy users.
The 11 attributes are as follows:
The new Marks & Spencer website, two years in the making, is a feast for the eyes. As a replatform, it cost a lot of money and accompanies other changes such as an upgraded contact centre and new in-store tech and merchandising.
In this first look at the site, I'll be pointing out the most obvious changes and discussing why it's a step change and effectively gives the impression of 'luxe high street' online.
What stands out is the focus on visuals, a curated experience with magazine-style editorial, and a user experience that’s particularly impressive on tablet. This isn’t a surprising approach given that 44% of Christmas traffic to the website was from tablets and the brand is moving to a ‘lean back’ experience online for those that want it.
I’ll be following this post with more discussion of the new site and its various features that could be set to revitalise the brand across devices (the M&S mobile site and its apps have been updated, too).
I love Spotify, I’ll just make that clear from the start. Spotify has completely changed the way I listen to music.
In fact, while I briefly linger in this positive mood, here are some more reasons why I love Spotify:
As a part-time music journalist, I couldn’t function properly without its unlimited access to 20m songs. Also, new album releases for any given Monday seem to appear not long after midnight on the Sunday before. This is terrific for my Monday morning commute.
I can also use Spotify on as many devices as I like (desktop, laptop, phone, work computer) with up to 3,333 songs able to be synced for offline listening on up to three devices at a time.
Just in case Thom Yorke is reading, I will also add that far as I’m concerned, using Spotify has led to me spending more money on music through other channels (mainly independent record stores), purely because of the access I now have to music that I wouldn’t normally listen to
As a final bonus, in the free version of Spotify, it has jettisoned the limits to how many times you can listen to a song and how many hours a month you can use it. I would however suggest that £10 a month is a small price to pay not to have to put up with some of the most irritating adverts ever hosted on a platform.
And this is where we arrive at the major thrust of this article.
It doesn't feel like that long ago when this phone conversation was a common occurrence...
Automated Booking Line: Please say the location of your chosen cinema clearly.
ABL: Did you say Chester?
ABL: Here are the film times for Chester.
ABL: You have selected The Nutty Professor 2 The Klumps.
Thank goodness those days are over... or are they?
Modern online cinema booking is certainly far from the flawless experience it should be. In my experience its full of limited navigation, poor search and endless booking options.
In this user experience test I'll be taking three of the biggest UK cinema chains through a vigourous check to see which one offers the best online experience, for desktop and mobile.
Nike has edged out the competition in a report that compares the online buying experience offered by seven of the world’s top sports brands.
The latest Qubit benchmark looks at the on-site effectiveness and UX of Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Puma, Fila, Asics and Converse.
Sites are judged based on more than 80 industry best practice criteria that give an insight into the UX and how easy it is for visitors to make a purchase.
As mentioned, Nike came out on top with a score of 80% closely followed by Adidas with 79%. Reebok came in third with 68%, just two points above the average score of 66%.
There has been a lot of talk lately about responsive web design, and a number of questions have arisen about how Google perceives sites that go down this route.
Matt Cutts said responsive design “won’t harm rankings”. Given that Matt isn’t in the habit of telling everyone how to win at SEO, I think this is as close to an endorsement as we’re going to get.
‘Responsive’ is pretty much used as a byword for ‘mobile optimisation’, which is the science of crafting a better user experience for smartphone users. The key part of that sentence isn’t ‘responsive’, nor ‘mobile’, but ‘user experience’.
This is becoming a bigger deal, as far as SEO is concerned, and I suspect that we have only just begun to scratch the surface of what's going on.
I wanted to share this excellent presentation on the theme of user experience axioms, which has been compiled and - in the spirit of the subject - iterated by Erik Dahl.
There are currently 26 UX axioms, and I don't think there is any filler in here at all. It's rare to see such a concise, fat-free, meaningful list like this.
The UX Axioms website outlines these principles along with a brief explanation of the thinking behind each one.
Nest Labs meteoric rise to $3.2bn acquisition by Google in three years has been powered by three principles you can apply to your mobile marketing.
Nest Labs is a Silicon Valley based disruptor dedicated to 'transforming people’s lives' with connected devices for the home that are both rational and emotional.
Founded by Tony Faddell, ex-Apple iPod lead inventor, Nest has been acquired by Google for $3.2bn. It has launched two products to date: the Next Learning thermostat and Nest Protect smoke alarm.
The smoke detector has to be one of the most ugly, unloved, annoying (but important) household devices we have around us. And Nest reinvented it…
The Nest Protect is a smart smoke detector and the principles of its design, user interface and concept speaks to three key best practices in Mobile development.
It’s a case study in considered care and empathy. They’ve produced a wonderful, differentiated product in a commoditized market that justifies its price premium.