Then after more blood, sweat and tears, I finally get it installed, and I’m unable to find the feature. Why? They violated a principle within usability called “Location Convention” (or “Expected Location”), i.e. the pre-conceived notion a control should be clustered with other like controls or in a traditional location (see http://www.usabilityfirst.com/glossary/convention/). The Hangout button was in a left-hand column squeezed between other unrelated features, whereas I was looking in the traditional web locations: top or left-hand menus. It literally took ten minutes and a co-worker’s assistance to find it. C’mon Google – if I can’t get off the start line, I’m not running the race. Despite your dominance in other areas, you should realize that making the early engagement easy is critical.
Associated with that early engagement frustration, another area that tweaked me was the Profile Set-up. Like a dutiful new user, I entered ALL of my information, but you would never know it from the screen shot below. Why? It somehow didn’t like the way I entered one field and, therein, erased all fields (grrrr… ) and didn’t tell me what was wrong with the one entry, thereby possibly setting me up for a subsequent re-eraser.
Selecting the Select
Exclusivity is the way Zuckerberg launched Facebook with great success: make it a Harvard-only thing and that aura of distinctiveness will make it seductive. Google+ has learned a little from Facebook on this one, although the propagation of exceptionality is certainly not as enticing. “The Social Network” showed how they expanded from Harvard to Yale, and then to select schools with deliberate reasoning (e.g. Stanford due to its proximity to Silicon Valley). Google+ supposedly started with tech-savvy guinea pigs, and then allowing mostly invite-only proliferation from there via friends of the original users. How is this different? If a Harvard student invited a Florida State student to join the early website (originally named “The Facebook”), he wouldn’t be able since his email address wasn’t @hardvard.edu. This mechanism enforced exclusivity until the critical mass was eventually realized amongst college campuses. Google+ has essentially allowed friends of geeks (*like me!) to join, which:
- Is only a select number of people since we geeks don’t get out much…and
- Doesn’t carry the same mystiqueas Harvard University.
Yeah, they’ve ramped up quickly, but now it’s a geek’s tool. Do any of the cool kids really want to come play now?
…TO BE CONTINUED…