One of the most important aspects of any application is the way that it empowers the user. This is so important that I don’t think that this can be overstated too much.
Which is why I find it so strange that game software on the likes of PCs, where user-empowerment is the entire point, has moved so far as to almost totally disenfranchise the user.
Take, for example, the new Sim City from EA.
When this works, it’s a fantastic game. However, it’s fairly unreliable. There are problems connecting to servers, or even worse, you can be happily playing a game and suddenly a drastic error occurs…
“Your city is not processing properly…”
That’s it. Game over.
You can rollback your game all you like, but it’s history. Abandon the region – and all your hours of endeavour – and move on, because it’s never coming back to life correctly.
So what has this got to do with empowering users?
Well, cloud-based or not, the user is unable to save their city. Some ethereal creature does it for you – and in the case of Sim City – not reliably.
Would it have been too difficult to provide the user with a “save now” option?
For another example of dis-empowering, you only have to look at the Start Screen of Windows 8. Quite simply, i find it offensive that I’m not allowed to determine the position of my tiles.
Sure, I can group items.
But I have three browsers installed (IE, Chrome and Firefox), and I’ve grouped them into a “Browsers” group. Now I want this to be one tile wide, and three tiles deep. After all, there’s absolutely no need for this group to be two tiles wide.
Except that I’m not allowed to do that.
Which is pathetic.
And as for not allowing me to run a Windows 8 Modern Style application in its own window on a secondary monitor, well, just don’t get me started on that!
So this post is a call to all UX developers out there.
Remember that whatever you think, the most important part of the application experience is the bit that empowers the user. Because once you’ve started to do that, they will love your software.
Then they will want to use it.
And most importantly, they’ll want to pay for it.