Search is one of the most misunderstood functionalities in IT

by Xavier Comments: 0

There is a phrase I use all the time: “Search is one of the most misunderstood functionalities in IT”. And I think it is very accurate.

The problem lies in two different aspects:

  1. Developers don’t know how to use search engines. And it is ok, search engines can be hard to tune appropriately and it is a specialised niche. In some cases, there are some search engines which are awfully expensive.
  2. Developers are lazy. Let me explain this one.

Let’s say that I am setting up an application for selling cars. Potential customers always look for the same things, which are make, model, year, sort by price and so on and so forth. There is a set of meta data that is important and required to find what you are looking for. So what is the solution to this problem?

Use a database where each field is stored in a separate column and look for the fields accordingly, just like in the following image. It is a mistake or at least a UX horror. I hate database driven search, but that is just my personal opinion.

A typical database driven search input

The correct wat of doing it is by providing a single search box. How? Like this:

A proper search box

If you want to learn how, please click on the following link to my Pluralsight course to get started with enterprise search using Apache Solr!

pluralsight.com/training/courses/TableOfContents?courseName=enterprise-search-using-apache-solr

 

Dumb UX mistakes in IIS

by Xavier Comments: 0

This is just a quick rant/question. Does anyone know why you have to type your password twice when setting up the Application Pool Identity in IIS?

It seems an extremely dumb feature as #1 you can copy paste the password or #2 just type it but given you usually include service accounts here with stupidly complicated passwords then why do you have to suffer typing it twice?

Windows “evolves” but the underlying things are exactly the same. Can’t Microsoft spare a little bit of time making Windows more usable and fix little itty bitty things like this one that overall will have a better user experience?

Oh well, who cares about devs anyway!

doublepassword

UX Some love to the uninstall screen

by Xavier Comments: 0

Granted that:
– Deadlines are usually very tight in software
– No one likes the idea of their software being uninstalled
– It is 2007 or 2008
– But doesn’t the Microsoft SQL Server team have someone that can spend 5 minutes making the uninstall screen look a tiny bit better?

removesql

UX Terms of Agreement and the devil is in the details

by Xavier Comments: 0

No one reads the terms of agreement… ever… I think. But in any case, how hard is it to provide the user with a decently sized reading area? And one last thing… who still uses dial up?

termsnet4

Windows 8 Folders

by Xavier Comments: 0

Dear Microsoft,

With Windows 8 I believe you tried to get a one size fits all product out too fast. There are things that instead of enhancing user experience, they degrade it.

One example is the Start screen. As you can see there is a bunch of crap that I don’t (nor will ever) use. Please bring in the capability to add folders.

This would have been prevented if you learned from experience. The only thing you needed is one of the people that worked in the design team to be an iPhone user. Remember how the initial versions of iPhone did not have folders and they later added this functionality? Well, just do the same.

win8

Sincerely,
Sometimes Frustrated User

How I like to provide feedback – Fitbit vs Microsoft

by Xavier Comments: 0

Have you ever taken one of those surveys that Microsoft presents you from time to time? Who comes up with these surveys?!1?!1?!1?! (one oneado for those who understand!)

If you take a survey from MS it is something like this:

“The following survey consists of 12325 questions that all look the same, it will take you about 3 hours and we are not so sure we will take your response too seriously, we will just average it with the rest. Thanks for all the fish!”

I know that asking a bazillion 1 to 10 questions makes the survey easier to grade and come up with averages and all sorts of charts, complexity all around which makes these people feel important. But it forgets the most important thing, the customer.

When you have a survey, focus on the customer and leave it an open response with perhaps just a few options. Let your customer tell you their experience and either you or hire people to analyze the response and file them accordingly.

I just took Fitbit’s support survey and loved it. Simple, focus on the customer, open answer. Let your customer provide you with the info you need and do the hard work on your end! You will get more of what you need.

fitbit

Also Kudos to Fitbit on their support, it was great and so its their product.

Seagate GoFlexHome 2 TB Hard Drive Review and Complaints

by Xavier Comments: 0

So one of my hard drives started to fail, and I NEED to have enough storage for all my stuff. I guess 3.5 TB overall wasn’t enough, so I just got another 2TB more. Yes…. Just let me be clear, those 5 TB are distributed among my many computers and external hard drives.

Anyway, I have multiple Western Digitals but decided to be bold, so I got a Seagate Home GoFlex 2 TB with wireless printing and I don’t remember what more promises I got from Amazon’s description.

Bottom line: genius idea all around, EXTREMELY CRAPPY EXECUTION

Being honest: it gets the job done, 2 TB accessible without being attached to a computer. Connects directly to the router, speed is “decent”, around 10 MBPS with two 500GB WD pounding on it at the same time. Not quite what I expected, but I can live with it.

Why is it bad execution of a great idea:
– Setup is not fit for a regular human being. The “out of the box, one disc, easy set up” did not work. I tried on the work network and then directly plugged in to my router at home. I had to log in to my router, find the ip address from the MAC address list and then slash slash my way to the drive.
I am quite geek and it was not pleasant at all

– When installing, it installs all kind of stupid applications that are supposed to help. Again, a horrible user experience IMHO. How easy would it be to have a folder in your computer, where everything would be synchronized with the hard drive, just like dropbox.com did to beat the crap out of Microsoft’s skydrive. Simplicity beats features IMHO. Or just a picasa folder selector style where you chose what to back up. Again, common sense did not get into the design of this product.

– It then installs a control panel that has all kind of stupid options too. It also has a web access, so why do you want to install a “Seagate Dashboard” that would only confuse end users?

– Moving forward, I tried to add another user. It hung, but cancel worked. So I try again and to my surprise the textboxes are disabled. Some crappy programmer forgot to do “MyTextbox.Enabled = true;” on cancel. Something as simple as that worries me about what else is inside this code.

– Here comes one of my favorites, you CAN’T change the name!!!!!! That means that you can only have ONE in your network.

Oh well, I think Seagate knows how crappy the user experience is with their software that they don’t expect anybody to buy a second one. A for effort on this one, but F for execution

My personal recommendation is stick to what works, go for a Western Digital that you simply plug into your USB port.

Seagate: c’mon… you can do better than this… And in case you are wondering, yes I can do it better. It just takes some good ol’common sense.

What would’ve I’ve done differently
– Add a little led that would display the ip address, that way when I connect it I can see “10.10.20.123”
– So I can go to http://10.10.20.123, log in as admin admin and create users. Don’t make the user install a dashboard, give web access which even my mom would be familiar with.
– If you have different areas like backup/personal and others, use different ips for those. I am pretty sure that is possible with one ethernet, not a full requirement but nice to have
– Now have a VERY SIMPLE application to install in the computers you wan’t to back up. Allow either “backup everything inside MyStuff(i.e.) folder” or the Picasa style folder selector
– Let the user change the name, so he can personalize his HD (who knows, this might be possible but all forums say it isn’t). More importantly, that allows people that LIKE this HD (if the previous steps are done) to buy additional ones
– Have a simpler way of explaining to users what the pro version does. Very simple, just have a “Do you want to access this drive from outside your home/network? Just pay $20 a year and we give you a way”. If you go geeky tech and explain, you are getting your users scared and can’t convince them no matter what.
For me, this simple steps would make a big difference on this product.

Ohh… don’t get me started on the printer!