Thu, 14 May 2015
User experience, or UX as it's commonly shortened to, is not as neutral a quality as one might think. Everyone wants to provide a good experience for their users, it's just that often it seems to be the means that justifies the end.
The most recent example of this is Facebook Instant, where, in order to improve the user experience, Facebook publishes content from websites directly. You never need to leave the app to view it and it loads much faster. The UX is, by the standards of speed and uniformity, better. And in those narrow terms it is.
It's the narrowness of those terms that bothers me. I worry that UX is becoming something of a trump card in these discussions that partly shuts down consideration of the wider context. By encouraging people to prefer things published by Facebook Instant, which you assume is the idea of it, the experience gets slicker but, almost certainly, less diverse.
This is not to say that I think we should not care about ease of use, just that before praising it we should ask if we had to give up something worthwhile in its service.
posted at: 21:47 #
Sun, 26 Apr 2015
This year I thought I will download and read all the manifestos (manifesti?) for the parties in 2015 general election. So far, so fail.
The first point is that for at least for the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems the link to their manifesto's wasn't as "right there in big type on the front page" as I'd expected it to be. Given that for all three of these parties I was looking at the site on the day of their manifesto launches that was a little surprising. It wasn't that it was that hard to find, just not as shouted about as I expected.
The Conservative one was my first attempt, it being the first to launch. I got about 25 pages in before the constant nagging "where are the references" at the many claims made wore me down and I stopped. Perhaps I am old fashioned in my need for at least some attempt to back things up with evidence.
Next, Labour and a week later I can remember almost nothing about reading twenty something pages. I have a vague association of it being more positive than the Conservative one but little else.
The final one I tried was the Lib Dems whose manifesto team was clearly on some sort of page count related bonus scheme because it's enormous, mostly because there are lots of pictures. I got further page count wise through this but pictures, and lots of "here is a list of bullet points, here is the list expanded".
A common theme was spending time thinking "how? How do you propose to do this thing?" Even where a how was stated it was very much "This is a problem. This is a thing we will do" and nothing to explain how the thing would actually solve the problem. I don't expect a full explanation of every single thing but something a bit more robust would be nice.
So, I got a bit dispirited and stopped. Which slightly saddens me but I'm not sure I felt like I was making myself that much more informed. There's still a week and an bit to go so I may go back to it. I should probably at least look at the SNP one but it's not an enticing prospect.
posted at: 17:26 #