No one has the intention of making things worse. All designers have positive intent. However, in reality, there are plenty of services that get worse with upgrades. Recently, I have had a few upgrades that feel like downgrades.
Feedly iPad App
I am not sure what prompted such a big change, but I am completely lost. I use Feedly in a browser and on my iPad. Honestly, it was near perfect. It was easy to use and pleasant to look at. The iPad upgrade made it difficult to use and unpleasant to look at. The browser version is still the same as before. An app that I had assumed would be there forever, now is on the chopping block. The “upgrade” is now making me switch to a different service. Of course, it’s free, but I can still complain, can’t I?
The details of how the app is worse are small, but significant. For one, the menu system moved from the top to the bottom of the screen. For me, the iPad is a device where my hands/fingers are typically near the top of the screen, not the bottom. Imagine lying on your back with the iPad on your chest. The bottom of the screen is kinda awkward to look at and press because it requires you to pull your chin all the way down.
A similar variation of this problem is the Safari full screen video player on the ipad. They moved the playback slider from the top to the bottom. I have no idea why they did this, but the same problem exists. Same on YouTube. Why do these app designers think the bottom is a better placement for the slider? My hands are holding the top of the ipad, not the bottom.
Marketo Sky UI
Honestly, I want Marketo to succeed. Even though I don’t work there anymore, I want them to do well. I started the Sky UI 3 years ago. At the time, it was called Mercury. The whole point was to switch from ExtJS to React. Any graphics changes would need to be cautious so as not to regress the usability.
When I saw the implementation of the UI, my heart filled with sadness. So much of the UI had become worse. Shockingly, the UI was slower, uglier, more inconsistent, and harder to use. Now, to be fair, it is in Beta. Therefore, it will still be a while before it becomes the default UI. As a contrast, the Salesforce Lightning UI was considered slower/clunkier and worse for years, but to succeed, you have to keep pressing forward.
Changing UI technology is always a risky proposition. Often, things will get worse before it gets better. I just blogged about the new WordPress editor and how it is worse than the previous. With all of these examples, there is a common thread.
PocketCasts Podcast Player
Last example is the PocketCasts Podcast Player on my Android Pixel phone. Somehow, the functionality changed so that my Up Next shows keep disappearing. I can’t figure out if this is user error, but it’s annoying as can be. Listening to NPR Politics in the shower, the device just became silent because it forgot about my next casts. This is ruining my experience with the program.
Moral of the Story
To make things better, you have to make things worse. My best post on this subject remains the tale of Local Max Island. People don’t like it when you change things, especially for the worse. However, don’t give up too quickly. When you make a change, listen to the feedback and keep moving forward.