Especially when "simple" is synonymous with "useful".
Alternative title for this post: Let Users Preview Changes!
If you haven't been following the uproar, Yahoo! TV recently released a new design without offering up a beta test or preview (like we did with Yahoo! Mail) and the on-line reactions have been resoundingly negative, as far as I can tell.
Here's a sampling:
Yahoo took a beating by users angry over the new Yahoo TV product in the comments to their own blog post announcing it. Even a former head of Yahoo Entertainment, Erik Schwartz, chimed in with his own bashing and suggesting that Yahoo has lost its way.
On 0xDECAFBAD, Les says:
Okay, Iím sick of it now, like many others. I was dazzled by the AJAX pagination technique at first, because I think itís an interesting advance in AJAX in general. But, Iíve been a user of the Yahoo! TV Grid - er Listings - for years now. Itís useless to me now, even after I re-discovered its location after my bookmark broke. I hate to be harsh, but Iíd outsourced a part of my brain the Yahoo! TV Grid, and suddenly that part of my brain is damaged.
On Derek's Rantings and Musings, Derek says:
But, like all things Yahoo that don't completely suck, they're not content if they're not ruining it, so some product designers got their hands on it, and now if you go there, you will get "Yahoo!TV Beta". Unlike with Yahoo!Mail and others, though, there's no way to say "Let me continue to use the non-suck-ass interface as long as possible please."
This is simple stuff. Donít make it so complicated, or Iíll wade through all the junk on www.tvguide.com.
I canít believe that you are now forcing an inconvenient signin to view localized listings! What a cheap, worthless stunt! You had a near-optimal experience lined up before, where apparently cookies kept track of where a user was and what their TV service was.
Youíve blown it now, idiots. Continue to force a signon for this and Yahoo! will lose not only my eyeballs on the listings page (there are several free and convenient alternatives, you know) but you will also see me reset my home page away from where itís been for 5 years. I havenít liked the way youíve progressively cluttered the Yahoo! home page, but Iíve put up with it.
I had to search to find this place to provide feedback, it took me 20 minutes of hard searching to find any place where I could share my horror at the travesty done to the TV listings. Please provide a link on the page when you make such draconian changes with no warning. It would lessen the blood pressure of your customers greatly.
And it goes on for quite a while, including comments from folks involved in building (or destroying?) the product.
In other words, this may be the best example so far of the Yahoo! corporate blog actually working. It's facilitating a two-way discussion about something that's very important to our users in nearly real-time.
It's a good thing we allow comments there. :-)
Back to the redesign...
This all leaves me wondering a bit. Like you, I'm trying to figure out how this could have happened. Why was there no trial period so that die-hard tv.yahoo.com users could voice their opinions before being forced to use the "improved" interface? Why did we manage to toss both "simple" and "useful" aside and substitute "flashy" for them?
I don't know the answers to any of those questions. Heck, I had sort of forgotten that tv.yahoo.com existed, because I don't watch TV. But when I did, I used it all the time. And I definitely remember it being the sort of "get in, get your info, get out fast" sites that you end up being very loyal to.
A small part of me wonders if this will be fixed sooner now that so much of the complaining is right in public on the corporate blog. I'm even starting to wonder if it's possible to close the feedback loop even more tightly by integrating comments onto new products themselves...
Posted by jzawodn at December 03, 2006 08:29 AM