Usability and the user

David Weinberger’s Joho the Blog often has interesting stuff about content, labelling, usability and web styles and fashions. Yesterday he blogged a devastating critique of Microsoft’s new music player from Andy Ihnatko in the Chicago Sun-Times. The bottom line (in Weinberger’s summary):

Zune sucks because it was designed to meet the music industry’s needs, not the users’.

Ihnatko’s review is convincing, but then I am not completely enamoured of the iPod either. But this comment about making the user not the publisher the focus of design (obvious really, but worth saying) got me to thinking about how we can make sure that the User, with a capital U, is at the forefront of our design when we improve our service. The great thing about a web service delivered over the web is that improvements can be steady and incremental…Several of our innovations since the summer seem to most definitely meet this criterion of improving the user’s experience (navigable contents pages; clickable links for emails/urls/phone numbers; printing of pages from PDF of the page image; and our initial plan of treating the digital magazine as being part of an individual’s account to which more content will be easily added — these design points do seem to be grounded in what user’s will need as they digitally encounter magazines). So we may feel that we have been moving in the right direction, but there surely are some dramatic and also some more subtle ways of enhancing the usability and usefulness of the digital magazine that we have not yet considered, or thought about. Some of these enhancements are about how digital magazines will be used alongside other digital content forms — maybe not Zune, but iPods, for sure, as they get more into our bloodstream……All of this digital-stuff will continue to evolve, adjust, integrate and adapt.

Any suggestions will be gratefully received.

One thought on “Usability and the user

  1. You could always make the page-flipping a feature that the user could turn on or turn off. After all, that’s what the sample you’re linking to offers.

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