At Red Gate, we have a big focus on usability – we try and make all our products as easy as possible to use, on the basis that if someone is trying to solve a problem, we should be helping to solve the problem rather than giving them more problems to solve just trying to use our software.
Now, maybe thinking about it constantly has sensitised me to poor usability, but sometimes you hit something that makes you wonder.Yesterday afternoon I was looking into a piece of software, and spotted a demo version available for download. The actual download process was straightforward enough, which is a positive start (how many companies make it unnecessarily hard just to get hold of their software?), but then the fun began. I’ll admit I was expecting a fair amount of configuration in the setup process, but after:
- Two hours,
- Over one hundred steps later,
- Wizards nested within wizards nested within wizards nested within wizards (I don’t exaggerate – at one stage there were four wizards all visible at once!),
- Check lists that don’t tell you what you’ve done so far,
- Having to debug SQL Scripts that don’t work because I so much as dared have a period in a username,
- Having to enter the same password about forty times,
- And several reboots after the thing crashed out and wouldn’t then let me back in…
…I still hadn’t managed to get the system working. Like I say, I can appreciate it if I need to give a fair amount of information: if that’s what’s needed, that’s what’s needed. But I have to say, I’m now thoroughly put off the product, even if it does have the features I want
Your installation process is the first thing a potential customer sees, so it needs to be good. If they can’t get the software working, there’s little chance they’ll buy it.
Finally, I’ll leave you with a photo Marine took towards the end, when the sight of yet another wizard had just about got to me 🙂