Saturday, September 5, 2015

Your app redesign sucks

Not terribly long ago, Google added their Google Play Music radio stations with a free, ad-supported version for everyone. Aside from the fact that their recommendations are terrible in my experience, they've nerfed their user experience. Just yesterday, in fact, I wanted to play the song The Pretender on my phone. Here's the result screen from my search:

While their auto-generated The Pretender Radio station is at least relevant, it's not what I am looking for -- the song I have played many times on my phone is nowhere to be seen.

I don't even get to my intended result until I scroll down. Here's what the full pane looks like:

Of the entire result pane, less the operating system's top bar and Music's top search bar and bottom music controls, about 11% of the real estate -- all of it below the initial view -- is devoted to what I'm looking for, and what I ultimately clicked on.

The radio stations have become a big pain point for me lately, as I tend to play music almost exclusively from Google Play Music, either on my phone or on my work or home laptops. The pain comes partially from their A1 position on nearly every screen but also from the fact that Google apparently isn't taking the hint that I don't use it and isn't letting me collapse or hide this section.

Their desktop experience isn't much better, yielding about 26% after discounting the search bar and controls:

The first project I worked on in Bing measured dissatisfaction (referred to as DSAT) with search results in XBox Music and Video search results. For example, when you search for "seven" in the context of videos, you might expect to see the results "Se7en", "Seven Years in Tibet", "Seven Samurai", and more. Ideally, the first result is the one you wanted, and if you clicked on the fifth one or if you didn't click any, that is a DSAT -- the results were poor. We took those data and learned from it to improve the quality of the results.

I imagine Google has some sophisticated ML to do exactly that; however, this is not an engineering problem. It's a simple matter of understanding what your users want, and at least in my humble opinion, this ain't it.