TIME TO PAY ATTENTION
Unlike the preceding and related post, this post is about a Gripe with a capital "G".
As touched on in the last post, computer and web users are increasingly dying by a thousand cuts caused by corporate inattention and inertia. In a world where a consumer's attention is more valuable than ever, and can be monetized with astonishing results (see Google's financials if you need convincing), companies need to respect it more than ever.
Although this applies to all companies, it ESPECIALLY applies to web companies. Increasingly, the quality control focus should be on "What can I do to make my user's time more efficient"?
It means anticipating more than ever, what features/aspects of your site they're most likely to be looking for, and making it front and center.
It means re-designing your web-site for utter usability before a corporate sense of aesthetics and/or vanity. (Again, Google and Yahoo! in its time, ten years ago, took this to heart obviously to great success and emulation).
As an example of how NOT to do things, I'd point to TypePad, the service this blog is based on.
If you go to TypePad's home page, you're told that the company has rolled out new features for current users. You click on the link and are taken here, which lists a number of cool features that the company has introduced, including doing podcasts on TypePad.
There are six new features outlined here, but NONE of them have active links that take you to a place where they tell you how to actually USE them.
I fumbled around a fair bit to find this information, including using the very unhelpful HOW-TO feature.
The only way I actually I found some info on how to do a podcast on Typepad, is thanks to this post by Fred Wilson a few days ago. Incidentally, I tried to find that specific post on Fred's site, but Google's "search within this site" gives a hodge podge of results that should at least be chronologically arranged, but that's a separate gripe and rant.
Anyway, trust me, I did find the page on TypePad podcasts through a link on Fred's site, that took me to a post by one of TypePad's founders, Mena Trott. on her blog.
With me so far? No? Well, they almost lost me as well in this mildly quixotic quest.
Speaking of Fred, he today has a post that also asks TypePad for a relatively simple improvement on their TrackBack spam filter, that could save up saving him a few minutes a day. As he puts it:
"TypePad has good tools to alert me of all the track backs I get and to allow me to delete the ones I find objectionable, but it takes time and that's something I don't have enough of."
That's all we users are asking...help us save a few seconds, a few minutes a day.
It all does really add up, whether it's looking for how to turn Microsoft's ClearType on (last post), or how to use new features, or just a better filter to help save time deleting spam.
What's sad is that these are but a few, random examples out of a day filled with hundreds of these kind of time-wasting events dealing with computers and the web.
This is not about singling out TypePad or Microsoft or any one company. It's about all companies needing to make concern for their users' time an indelible part of their DNA.
Paraphrasing Neil Armstrong, "it may be a few clicks for man, but a giant pain in the a** for mankind".