Random Update

June 9th, 2009 § 0 comments

Topics for this post include;

  • My rad birthday present
  • Bing.com
  • Apple’s announcements at WWDC

So, my awesome friends hooked me up with an even more awesome birthday present – a Kindle 2, and it’s not even a used one! I obviously, think it’s great so far. It’s small, the text is totally readable, and buying books is probably just a bit too easy. The only two negative comments I have are that the little joystick thing is a a bit small and I keep wanting to touch the screen as if it were an iPhone. I’m sure I’ll get over it soon. So as of right now, I’ve got a Kindle and the Kindle App on my iPhone all synced and working great. Now if I just had some more time to read.

OK so my take on Bing.com. Basically, it looks like it was built by Microsoft with some help of some low res screenshots from Google and very little insight into why Google has made the decisions it has. Here’s a screenshot that shows a couple issues that I found frustrating:

Bing.com Home Page

First off, the Home Page is ugly. Totally functional, but ugly. The picture in the background is distracting, none of the links look clickable, and I’ve always hated the magnifying glass search metaphor. Oh yea, and who the hell cares about planning a trip to Florence? I was looking for shoes. So damn frustrating.

Bing.com Shoes Search

Now here’s a picture of my shoes search. Talk about cluttertastic. We’ve still got a picture of Florence behind the logo – Why? I’m sure no one knows. The left nav is pretty cool with some categorization that seems accurate, though I’m not about to start digging through categorized lists of results when I really just want to go somewhere else. The last thing anyone looking for something ever wants to do is look for something. They want to find it as quickly as possible and go away. Microsoft still struggles with sending people away from their sites, and it’s evidenced in Bing. They categorize, so that I have to dig. If you scroll down a search results page, you see your results broken into categories with links to “See more results” presumably within the category. Very interesting, except that they also have numeric pagination at the bottom of the page. I don’t quite understand how they can provide me a ranked list of results broken down by category on page 1, then list more results on page 2 w/out breaking them into categories. It’s just plain ol unintuitive. That brings me to the modal window that’s triggered when mousing over a little orange dot that appears to the right of every result. The modal shows more details about the results, which is neat. 2 problems though, and one of them is going to cost MS money. First, it appears when I mouse over the dot. Freaking surprising and frustrating at the same time. There’s very little visual queue that anything is going to happen, then BAM! A modal that covers a chunk of screen – oh yea and it says “Go to the page” which is interesting if we’re still thinking about websites as pages. Granted that’s a personal beef I have not something many people will probably notice. – Second, and this is the one that will cost MS money, their modals cover their sponsored sites. It’s seriously as if they made a conscious decision to hurt their own revenue opportunities. Because advertisers are going to see fantastic click-through rates when their ads are covered with links to other sites.

If I were MS, here’s what I would do. – Less. I would have fewer links, fewer modals, and fewer stupid pictures of Florence. Basically fewer things for my customer to think about, and fewer variables to track and report on. I would trim, trim trim and provide focus. Figure out exactly what it is I want my customers to do when they use my site and give them just that. No more. This would allow my product team to launch the site, see what works easily, understand customer behavior and motivations, and then make changes according to the data. Basically, just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. Bing looks like it’s a startup that was launched with a mature site’s features. Oh yea and it’s damn ugly. I mean seriously did they lay off their web design team in the last set of layoffs? I’m so over it.

Apple announced some new stuff at WWDC. Everyone knows about it. I want a new 15″ MacBook Pro and Snow Leopard. Not sure if I want the new iPhone 3G S. I mean… of coure I want it, but I’m going to satisfy my gadget craving with a new DSLR instead of a new phone.

That’s it.