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Showing posts from 2012

Why managing a YouTube playlist is painful

YouTube recently changed their web UI - with a cleaner look and emphasis on recommended content and they do a good job of highlighting new features during your first visit.  However, when it came to finding my playlists, that was unnecessarily challenging.

Despite there being only two choices in the left navigation (Guide and More Results), I didn't expect my playlists to be located in a 'guide' and I had to expand the area to see them - I think this area (left, especially given only two items there) should be expanded by default so I can see all of the options right away. 

When I eventually navigated to my Playlist 1, I wanted to delete a few videos but that took seriously too much time.  The visibility of the Edit Playlist button (below) was poor - placed above a brown deleted video notification and the playlist header AND it was colored in black on a dark gray/black gradiated background (there should be more contrast!).  After clicking the button to invoke the edit mod…

Rdio updates its app with visual design, navigation flyout

Rdio already does a lot of things right, like highlighting new features for users on the web. With mobile, they've always been trailing other music apps a bit in terms of visual design but with their latest version, the look and feel is greatly improved with a cleaner interface and modern font.  And the new left-hand flyout (used by many other apps like Facebook and YouTube) is a convenient way to access all of the navigation options in one place. 

However, as useful as the flyout is, it's not always available from every screen and this really impacts how quickly you can access Search. For example, while listening to any song, it takes four clicks to get back to Search.
I believe searching while listening to a song is a real use case - so I would strongly suggest a persistent search icon like YouTube (left) has on the top right of their mobile app header.  This would let users access Search from any screen in the app.

Despite the issue around Search, Rdio did a really nice jo…

Pandora, Rdio highlight features to help new users

Creating a new station on Pandora is not complicated at all.  You type in an artist, song, genre, etc. and the search field starts to predict what you want based on the letters you type - this is called auto-complete, not new but very useful and quickly becoming part of users' mental model, it's what they expect when they search.  After you find what you want (e.g. Shoegaze, Mickey Mouse), the station populates your list of current stations on the screen and a song start playing right away. The process is very intuitive and few steps are required for the user to start a new station. 


But the most useful part about creating a station is how Pandora explains the feature when you click into the search field.  This is called feature highlighting, a contextual way to explain how to use certain areas of the product. When you click in the search field, you understand the value of the feature. 

Rdio (left) has an even more elaborate way to do this called a Feature Tour (highlighting…

Updates to iOS make song management a real challenge

iOS 6 was released several weeks ago and included many new UI enhancements including Maps, a separate Podcasts app and removal of the native YouTube app.  Most of the changes are good improvements but some, specifically to iTunes Match have made the management of songs difficult and frustrating. 

First, you cannot download one song at a time any more, only entire albums.  And it's not clear why Apple decided to change this. Not only does downloading entire albums take up more precious storage on my iPhone but the inflexibility is frustrating and it seems like the only workaround is by adding individual songs to a playlist - not ideal or intuitive. 

Second (and probably the most egregious issue) is that you cannot delete any songs from your library without first turning off iTunes Match.  Not only is this completely unintuitive but once you turn Match back on, your library is automatically wiped clean.

You used to be able to quickly add or delete individual songs - Apple needs t…

The best and worst of the Lollapalooza app

Although Lollapalooza has been around for 20+ years now and has expanded into other countries like Brazil, Chile and (2013) Israel, this was the first year we made it to the three-day festival in Chicago. And since it was our first time there, we wanted to make sure we could plan our day well - get around Grant Park quickly, quickly find our favorite bands, the food, beer, bathrooms.  We used the festival's official iPhone app which provided many features while keeping the experience simple. 

Overall, navigation worked well, most features exceeded expectations and the workflow of creating a schedule (albeit short) was great.  However, explanation of the Group Text feature and phone coverage (which wasn't the app's fault but still had a major impact on the user experience) must be improved.  

Here's a breakdown of the best and worst features of the app's user experience:

BEST

1. Lineup tab and ability to add artists to our schedule - I could easily see who was pl…

The pain of transferring songs from iTunes to a Kindle Fire

Since the Kindle Fire uses the Android platform and all of my music is located on a Mac/iTunes using iTunes Match, I expected there to be a small challenge transferring songs to the Fire but I Google'd 'transferring songs to a Kindle Fire', found an overview of the process on Amazon and seemed like the steps would be fairly simple. However, the overall workflow was cumbersome and confusing.

I read the instructions and (after logging into Amazon) followed a link to the Amazon Cloud home.  I quickly noticed a clear call to action - an 'Upload Files' button in TWO locations on the screen and it was a well-organized screen (although it wasn't clear what Lists was, on the left side).  And uploading files seemed fairly intuitive and flexible by 1) control-clicking the file and choosing 'Upload to Cloud Drive', 2) dragging them to a Cloud Drive icon in the menu bar or 3) clicking the Upload Files button which invoked the native Mac folder window where I coul…