Thursday, August 03, 2006

beta means screw the users

Video Version

Vaspers the Grate
"beta means screw the users" (6:00)


Text Version

#1 User Reality: users are always in a hurry. Users don't have time to learn entire new skills sets just to operate a simple web service. But most web products totally ignore this #1 User Reality.

For example, let's look quickly at Video Uploading, Hosting, and Player Embedding.

I don't like the fact that when I upload my videos to YouTube, I lose all my rights to the content. YouTube could make a major Hollywood movie based on one of my videos (fat chance), and I would never see a penny. That sucks.

But guess what? So far, two of the alternatives that I have explored have horrible, lousy, inexcusably rotten usability. Broken functionalities. Confusing instructions. No sense of how users want to interact with the product. No comprehension of how the competing products, like YouTube, are kicking their stupid asses.

REAL Definition of "beta" = junk.

I don't know about you, but when I see "beta", I cringe. You know what "beta" means? What it REALLY means?

BETA version means JUNK that will PISS YOU OFF and waste your time.

"We know our product is annoyingly dysfunctional, but we refuse to find and fix all the bugs.

Instead, we are going to exploit our users, and force them into the role of Free Usability Analysts.

We'll let the users find and offer solutions to our screwed up product."


Folks, this is just plain WRONG.

A huge backlash is already occuring, it's not just crabby old Vaspers the Grate who is angry.

Now, when I see that cursed term "beta" on any web service site, I know the providers are likely to be cheap, lazy, and exploitive of users. I don't have time for all this Broken Web 2.0 BS. I have work to do. I have projects to complete. Lemonade to drink.

Other IT bloggers at ZDNet and elsewhere are on my side, and are hatefully lashing out at all these lame ass companies pulling this crap on us. Free and Full of Unfixed Dysfunctionalities is NOT acceptable.

Example of Bad Beta:
Blip.tv


I successfully uploaded my latest Vaspers video, "Blog Residue", to Blip.tv

But unlike YouTube, there is no clear path to HTML code for a link to it, nor to a video player embed that I can paste into a blog post. I made a wild guess, after clicking on various dead ends, and discovered that "Sidebar" page contains HTML for a clickable button to take users to my Blip.tv videos.

But when I pasted that code into my blog template, it did not work.

Blip.tv claims to have an application that will access your blog's administrative panel or "dashboard", and use your private password to enable posting a Blip.tv video to your blog. That doesn't seem to work either.

It's a wreck and a mess.

Remember, I'm not being leisurely or patient with all the time in the world for methodical minute inspection of every tiny aspect of Blip.tv because I don't have that luxury.

Like most other users, I'm in a hurry.

Why can't web developers and service providers get this through their freaking thick skulls?

User Realities That
They Arrogantly Ignore:


We're rushed. We're multi-tasking. We're distracted by our environment (kids yelling, phones ringing). We've got project deadlines to meet. We have other things to do. We cannot spend huge amounts of time figuring out work-arounds for bugs in releases that should be withdrawn.

I beta test software constantly. I'm not an inept newbie. So what is up with all this user-hostility? It's the plague of mediocrity.

It's the Guy Kawasaki Asshat Marketing Theory: "Don't worry, be crappy" (proclaimed in his stupid book Rules for Revolutionaries, a book that's not even worth the Bic lighter fuel to burn it with).

It's "ship shoddy, but ship first" mentality of Silicon Valley.

(1) Boycott them.

(2) Generate negative buzz in the blogosphere.

(3) Expose these irresponsible service providers.

(4) Teach them a bottom line lesson they will never forget.

;^)

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