Badly behaved applications - how do you prevent?

12 Sep 2006 - 9:41am
7 years ago
2 replies
774 reads
Paul Sherman
2006

Listening to a CNET podcast today, I learned that Amazon's new "Unbox"
service commits a few faux pas - and arguably some unpardonable sins -
in how it interacts with users.

Amazon Unbox, a video download service, does the following:
-Requires users to download a media management and player application.
-The application sets itself to start when you start Windows - without
asking the user's permission.
-The program doesn't provide an option to not start with Windows. (You
have to manually configure your system to prevent Unbox from starting -
a skill that is beyond the average user.)
-Even when the application is prevented from starting with Windows, it
launches a service and tries to phone home.
-When the user attempts to uninstall the program, Unbox requires the
user to provide their Amazon username and password before permitting
Windows to uninstall it.

Now, no sane interaction designer would intentionally design an
application to behave as rudely as Unbox evidently does. I surmise that
this poor behavior arises from the misguided desire of product
management to always ensure that the application is available to the
user, as well as the desire to collect as much user & system data as
possible. (I've witnessed both these desires in organizations I've
worked at.)

My questions to the list:
-What tactics have you developed to defend against treating the users
(and their computers) poorly?
-How can you in the role of experience designer most effectively educate
and influence your product mgmt, marketing, and engineering teams so
that they don't make bad decisions about the user experience?

Resources:
I learned about the issue from this podcast:
http://chkpt.zdnet.com/chkpt/1pcast.bole.090806/http://podcast-files.cne
t.com/podcast/cnetbuzz_090806.mp3
And I blogged about it here:
http://www.usabilityblog.com/blog/archives/2006/09/for_shame_amazo.php

Paul

--
Paul Sherman

Comments

12 Sep 2006 - 1:22pm
cfmdesigns
2004

>From: "Sherman, Paul" <paul.sherman at sage.com>
>
>Amazon Unbox, a video download service, does the following:
>
>-When the user attempts to uninstall the program, Unbox requires the
>user to provide their Amazon username and password before permitting
>Windows to uninstall it.

That's apparently an exaggeration, caused by a firewall preventing the "phone home" service from contacting Amazon, or some such:
http://reviews.cnet.com/4531-10921_7-6636289.html

(Linked off Daring Fireball.)

Now for the fun bit: are Amazon's excesses here less or more than Sony's burp with overzealous protection measures several months back?

-- Jim Drew
Seattle, WA

15 Sep 2006 - 7:08pm
dszuc
2005

I was excited to try this new service.

* 5 minutes - "excitement", downloads software

* 10 minutes - install and not working well, "excitement" turns to "puzzled"

* 15 minutes - uninstall and re-install x 2, "puzzled" turns to "I want to
beat this thing"

* 30 minutes - installed, runs software (slow to load, forces a login) - "I
want to beat this thing" turns to "will wait to see what Apple comes up with
next"

Demonstrates how you can lose a user within a short time and how genuine
product excitement can soon turn to complete frustration. Anyone else
experienced a similar path?

Rgds,

Daniel Szuc
Principal Usability Consultant
Apogee Usability Asia Ltd
www.apogeehk.com
'Usability in Asia'

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Sherman, Paul
Sent: Tuesday, September 12, 2006 10:42 PM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Badly behaved applications - how do you prevent?

Listening to a CNET podcast today, I learned that Amazon's new "Unbox"
service commits a few faux pas - and arguably some unpardonable sins - in
how it interacts with users.

Amazon Unbox, a video download service, does the following:
-Requires users to download a media management and player application. -The
application sets itself to start when you start Windows - without asking the
user's permission. -The program doesn't provide an option to not start with
Windows. (You have to manually configure your system to prevent Unbox from
starting - a skill that is beyond the average user.) -Even when the
application is prevented from starting with Windows, it launches a service
and tries to phone home.
-When the user attempts to uninstall the program, Unbox requires the user to
provide their Amazon username and password before permitting Windows to
uninstall it.

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