Small Business Susan

Dear Steven: Don’t forget the people using your products now actually USE your products.

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2011/09/02/reflecting-on-our-first-conversations-part-2.aspx


The post can be summed up in a “we don’t care if you don’t like what we’re saying, we know better from telemetry.  To which I want to respond.. dude… don’t keep chasing the ellusive bleeding edger that likes change and forget the person using your products now.


Show me someone USING Internet Explorer and when IE9 rolls out and the VERY first thing they ask is “where are my favorites”.  So when designing this stuff don’t just get data … ASK users what they like/don’t like.  And ASK people that USE your product.  I have change the default settings of every IE9 deployment to ask people what they liked, if they wanted tabs separated, if they wanted the tool bars exposed.  In my office only one person wanted the clean real estate.  The rest wanted their tabs and favorites back.  So in rolling out new things how about having a setup wizard that ASKS a current user of your products how they want things set up.


“Media Center will not be part of the first pre-release builds. Some other features/capabilities will not be in the first pre-release builds including: Windows 7 games, DVD Creator, upgrade setup, Dot Net 3.5 (Note there are perhaps a couple of other relatively low profile items but just wanted to hit the major ones here). These are engineering decisions as well as business decisions.”

Finally, okay Steven I know you are an Executive and thus probably a tad clueless in the nuts and bolts of how your products work but for the record it’s called .NET not “DOT NET” and when you say it won’t include DOT NET 3.5, if the OS includes “DOT NET 4″ that’s inclusive of 3.5 as well. 



4 comments ↓

  • #   Owen on 09.04.11 at 2:29 pm     

    RE: So when designing this stuff don’t just get data … ASK users what they like/don’t like. And ASK people that USE your product.

    There is research which demonstrates it’s much better to WATCH users USE the ACTUAL product than to ASK them about something, especially when speculating about an unfamiliar future feature:

    First Rule of Usability? Don’t Listen to Users
    http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20010805.html

    updated by:

    Interviewing Users
    http://www.useit.com/alertbox/interviews.html

    which posits that interviews are sometimes useful in specific, limited circumstances.


  • #   Dean on 09.04.11 at 5:06 pm     

    “There is research which demonstrates it’s much better to WATCH users USE the ACTUAL product than to ASK them about something”

    What do you think the telemetry does ?


  • #   Joe Raby on 09.05.11 at 12:11 pm     

    They also do focus groups, and they don’t care how much experience one already has with the product (because they like to know how advanced users interact with the software too).


  • #   Mike on 09.08.11 at 12:34 pm     

    Steven’s article is rambling, confused and short on solid evidence – a bit like Microsoft’s work on UI design, IMHO.

    To keep it very short…

    Apple (who I am no fan of as a corporation) seem to be the only people coming out with intuitive user interfaces.

    Microsoft, Adobe etc. just seem to come out with ‘redesigns’ that seem to have little direction. It’s as if they can’t see the wood for the trees (in their panic to try to match Apple’s success with UI design).

    One simple example – when you add it up, since switching to Win 7 and IE 9 I probably waste 10 minutes each day trying to visually hunt down the Home button in IE9 (tiny, white, lost on Aero background). You really don’t need telemetry or focus groups to tell you that’s a bad idea.

    Talking of which – have you ever seen the people who make up focus groups? It’s like the ‘experts’ you keep seeing on the TV, i.e .the same old nodding dogs that lazy reporters keep in their address books and wheel out to give guesstimations of what is going on in the world.

    (It’s the same reason I dislike the online questionnaires which pop up after practically each website visit – do they really think that anyone with the time on their hands to complete 15 pages of confusingly worded, repetitive questions is indicative of a ‘typical’ users?)

    Telemetry – fancy word, but what does it really mean? “We track what buttons people press” and maybe a few extras.
    But in what depth? Sure, more people may click the Styles button in Word now they see it in the Ribbon… but are you telling me that equal numbers proceed to use the cr*ppy old (non-redesigned) UI to actually create, apply and edit styles? Not in my experience.

    Microsoft keep saying ‘honest – we are not dumbing down’, but all the evidence points to this being the case. Nowadays people know far less about Word than they used to – because 10-15 years ago it was policy to pay out for Intro, Intermediate and sometimes even Advanced training. Now it’s “everyone knows how to use Word – no training necessary”

    Today people ‘don’t knowwhat they don’t know’ – we’re in the Age of Stupid in more ways than one. And the only people who seem to have the smarts to work out how to overcome user ignorance and genuinely empower them (ugh, hate that word) – is Apple – which is why their cash mountain probably now reaches the Moon.

    Steven and his ilk haven’t really got an original thinking bone in their bodies – and no amount of long, rambling, self-justificatory articles can hide that… because it all comes down to the bottom line, namely sales, profits and market-share.

    Techy companies are getting it soooo wrong for the average consumer/user that it only takes a company to think a little more creatively about the user experience for them to clean up. As much as I dislike Apple Corp, there is part of which relishes seeing what they are going to bring out next, and how it will illuminate the complacency of the Microsofts and Adobe’s of this world.