Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Adios, Autoweek

Autoweek redesigned their website recently and it looks great.  Unfortunately, they deep sixed their (probably extremely unpopular) RSS Feeds.  So you've got to follow them on google plus or facebook or just actually take the time to look at their website every day or two in order to see all their articles.  Luckily, several of their competitors (like autoblog.com) still keep RSS feeds available for weirdos like me.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

How Not To Design a Web Application

Little problems make a big difference when they affect the core functionality of your app.

Example 1: At a certain huge credit union you can opt in to receive electronic statements for your accounts.  The option to actually receive email notifications that your electronic statements are available on their website is hidden on a different settings page.  What are you receiving if you select the first option only?  Nothing.  You are receiving no mail and no email.  You are fetching things from their site on a set schedule that you have to remember, but if you forget the schedule, you get nothing.  Their response when I pointed out that these two settings were very close in functionality and belonged at least on the same page?  "We have professionals who designed our application and we are very proud of it."  Forget logic, they paid somebody to write the site and the mere fact that they paid for it means it was done right even if it makes things harder on their customers.

Example 2: Garmin Connect.  They've been unveiling a redesign recently to move from their old basic fitness web app with a fairly fixed workflow to a dynamic portal which will also serve portlet content to their mobile apps on different platforms, allowing them to present a single user experience with a single codebase.  The whole point of the site from a business perspective is to lock people into Garmin devices for their fitness wants (nobody needs these things) and pressure their friends to also use Garmin by providing basic social functions.  The whole point of the site from a user perspective is to have a place to review old workout data, plan new workouts, and synchronize that data with a Forerunner or whatever other device the user has.  There's a calendar in the app that lets you schedule workouts.  It is not available directly in the Android app (maybe on apple, I don't know).  If you look at the mobile view of the calendar it does not adjust to your screen width.  Creating workouts is a huge hassle and there's no obivous way to import or export them from other programs like their old desktop application, Garmin Training Center.  And the worst part of the calendar is that creating and scheduling workouts does NOT send them to your phone.  There's another secret step that you have to do before you can actually use the workouts you are creating and scheduling.  There is a generic arrow icon in the top left of the calendar.  If you click that, you can get an iCal url or tell it to send your scheduled workouts to your device.  One of the three primary reasons to have the app is to get data on and off your garmin brand device!  Why would you create data and not want it on the device?  You wouldn't!  Nobody would!  There's no way to share or export workouts or training calendars in their user interface so that data has no reason to exist if is isn't going to a device.