Design matters

Do you remember what MP3 players were like before the iPod was invented?

I wonder if the same will be true of the smart phone:

“The iPhone won’t do anything that can’t be done with devices that are currently on the market. For that reason it won’t appeal to gadget freaks, but the Apple’s innovations on the user interface will ensure that the iPhone appeals to those who would otherwise not have considered buying a smart device.

Remember that digital music players already existed long before the iPod, but the iPod has been hugely successful because everything before it was perceived as being awkward to use and best left to those with a good understanding of the underlying technology.”

From: http://www.geekzone.co.nz/forums.asp?forumid=40&topicid=14275

As it happens, design matters.

If people don’t think it’s easy to use it’s unlikely to be used.

Touchy feely

This coming week is the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in the US.

Expect the buzz around the upcoming launch of the iPhone to reach fever pitch by the time Steve Jobs takes the stage.

Check out this competition, where people had to make their own iPhone advert (via Michael Gregg). Amazing free publicity for a product which isn’t even released yet.

This entry is a bit wacky:

I could swear those are kiwi accents too. :-)

And so the anticipation builds.

Meanwhile, for those sitting on the Windows side of the fence (or for that matter Apple fan boys in NZ who will no doubt be waiting a while for the local release of iPhone) … no need to feel totally left out of all this touchy feely stuff.

Check out the just launched HTC Touch, which runs Windows Mobile and has a touch screen interface.

Sounds great in theory. But when you look closely at the photos of the physical design of the phone or see the user interface in action, it seems to lack the final 1% which makes the iPhone appear magical.

As Joel Spolsky wrote this week: it’s a games of inches.

Yellow is the new black

Yellow Pages have put up a beta of their new website:

www.yellow.co.nz

As previously noted they seem to have dropped the “pages” part of their name.

As far as I can tell, apart from a bit of lipstick, the site is the same old site we all don’t love:

It’s still just an online version of the printed directory. Most listings contain only a phone number and an address, not even a description of the business. You actually get more information from the hard-copy where at least they allow graphics etc (although you can view the ad from the printed directory by clicking on the ‘view ad’ link).

There is so much more useful information that businesses could include in their online listing. Imagine, for example, if they allowed restaurants to list their menu.

They don’t cater for browse dominant users. To view the category hierarchy I need to click a link and then I end up in a horrible control which lists every leaf category alphabetically.

Their category hierarchy continues to be a complete dogs breakfast. There are too many leaf categories and consequently the structure is too deep and too fragmented. The structure is also unbalanced. ‘Business Services’ is a top-level category – covering everything from ‘Accountants’ to ‘Security Guards’. ‘Funeral Arrangements’ is also a top-level category, although it has only seven sub-categories which hare all leaf categories.

I can’t list a new ad online. Hello?

The search is still way more complex than it needs to be. Google allows me to find any page on the whole internet using a single text box. That should be the benchmark. Really, who is going to search for businesses “within 100 kms”?

They’ve added “My Address Book” functionality, but don’t allow me to add comments. I’m completely disconnected from all of the other people searching on the site. Where is the “other people searching for this found these listings useful” functionality?

Oh well. Maybe in the next version?