The Fox has mentioned it before. The words flow from his pointy mouth quite easily.
“Don’t buy music from Amazon.”
It’s a pretty specific statement. Not much room for interpretation.
But sometimes his wife can only find some obscure song she’s looking for on Amazon.
And then it begins.
Not that iTunes is any gem, but iTunes generally behaves in expected ways and doesn’t get in the way when the Fox is trying to do something.
There appear to be some philosophical differences at Amazon.
Mrs. Fox generally hates computers, so after hunting down the song she’s looking for, she enlists Mr. Fox to go kill it.
This should only take a minute. Except it doesn’t. This does.
- On the Amazon website the Fox clicks the clearly marked button “Buy Now” next to the song. (Super easy! +5 points.)
- A pop-up window is displayed stating that to buy the song the Fox must download the Amazon Music player app. The Fox is not amused. He only wants to download an MP3 of the song he just bought. “Not so fast”, says Amazon. “We have an entire music playing application that you must have to get the most satisfaction out of that song.” (This is dumb. -5 points.)
- Reluctantly, the Fox clicks the clearly marked button to “Download the App”. (This is also dumb…of the Fox. He should have just quit right here. -3 points.)
- The app installer downloads and the Fox gets to experience the always exciting application installation process. This wouldn’t be terrible if the Fox was in the market for a new application. He’s not. (Total waste of time. -10 points.)
- The new Amazon Music Player app instantly and automatically (read: without the Fox’s desire, consent, or prompting) detects his giant iTunes library and automatically starts importing all songs. The Fox frantically looks for but can’t find any way to stop this. (Automatically doing things the Fox doesn’t want done is not helpful while also inducing anger like symptoms. -20 points.)
- Ignoring the annoying import taking place against his will, the Fox begins to look for the song that he just purchased. Surely it’s right here front and center. It’s not. It’s not anywhere. He searches, sorts, filters. Nothing. (This has quickly turned into an exercise in torture. -150 points.)
- The music player then alerts the Fox, via pop-up, that he must agree to the Terms and Conditions to use this new app that he never wanted in the first place. The only provided link in the pop-up says “View Terms and Conditions” and…wait for it…clicking the link launches Safari and opens a WEB PAGE! That’s right. The Fox has been thrown out of an app he never wanted into another app he wasn’t expecting to read a web page he never wanted to see. Oh to have been in the room while this experience was cobbled together. (Moving into the realm of pure disbelief. -1,789 points)
- The web page has one single banner talking about how awesome Amazon Prime is and how the Fox really needs to use Amazon Prime and Amazon Prime is really great and only losers don’t use Amazon Prime. At the bottom is a small link to view those terms and conditions he was told about, then a rather prominent button that says “Try Amazon Prime”. Now, read carefully. Under the prominent “Try Amazon Prime” button is text that says something like, “To agree to the terms and conditions, click the Try Amazon Prime button.” What? The Fox is stunned, feeling like he’s wandered into some 90’s era Gateway store full of cow-print boxes and Microsoftian crap-ware and devious up-sell quotas. How did I get here. Where the heck is that song I bought? Why can’t I speak in 3rd person anymore? (Dazed and confused -1,345,449 points.)
- Desperate to regain some slim grip on reality, (and out of some masochistic curiosity) the Fox clicks the “Try Amazon Prime” button feeling certain he can cancel whatever fee trial garbage he has unwittingly signed up for. The web page closes and he’s back in the Amazon Music Player app that is chugging away on his entire iTunes library, but still has no trace of the one single song he purchased through Amazon. (Do the points even matter anymore?)
- But wait, there’s more! The horrendously unhelpful music player has noticed that the Fox bought a physical CD for his dad six years ago via Amazon, and while the Fox was getting scammed into signing up for Amazon Prime, the app decided to start automatically downloading the entire album digitally. Haven’t we already had the talk about doing things automatically? What the heck is the Fox going to do with 21 The Best of Hank Williams songs? Certainly not play them.
- Still disillusioned, the Fox finds himself typing away frantically in the search bar to find the ONE AND ONLY song he cares about at all – the ONE SONG HE JUST BOUGHT. Nothing. The song doesn’t exist.
- Out of a maniacal compulsion to complete the full 7th circle of hell he’s wandered into, he goes back to Amazon’s website and actually…buys…the song…again. That’s right. The Fox has become more than willing to pay twice the price to somehow extract himself from this Amazonian technologist’s Rube Goldberg machine.
- Upon the second purchase attempt, Amazon’s website recognizes that the Fox already has the Super Crappy Amazon Music Player App that He Never Wanted TM and prompts him to download the song into said app. The Fox mashes the “Download Song” button with a ferocity that nearly shatters his mouse, the desk and the universe.
- He’s taken back to the Super Crappy Amazon Music Player App He Never WantedTM and his purchased song is displayed front and center.
As of this writing, the Fox has no idea if he actually paid for the song twice or just experienced Amazon’s standard music buying process.
With all the politeness the Fox can muster, he calmly tells Mrs. Fox they will never buy music from Amazon ever again. Ever.
There is a certain amount of latitude between what is good, what is elegant, and what is refined that can take many, many manifestations. It doesn’t have to be one style. We’re not talking about style, we’re talking about quality.
The world has lost a great designer.
70 years ago Operation Overlord (D-Day) involved 156,000 allied soldiers storming the beaches of France to rid the Nazi occupation. Peter Macdiarmid has taken photographs that match up with archived photos from that day to create this stunning interactive Then and Now piece. Very powerful.
What makes Scratch so desirable for the school setting is it is a program where kids naturally relate their experiences to overcome a problem. Cervantes met with hundreds of children in grades 3 to 12 and asked each what they were most proud of after having learned Scratch. “It was very common for them to tell me: ‘Well I got stuck here. I was trying to do this and this went wrong and I really like that I was able to fix it.’”
Scratch is an interesting application that teaches programming and logic to children in a way where they are completely in control of what they make.
Reuben Steiger, a principal at international experience design firm Method, shares some insights into what makes a great brand.
In his 1971 book, Future Shock, the futurist Alvin Toffler talked about the upcoming “experiential industry,” in which people would be willing to allocate high percentages of their salaries to live amazing experiences.
[Today] We are happy to visit Disneyland or pay real money for virtual goods because they amuse and delight us. Spending $200 for an Armani shirt makes perfect sense because the luxury experience and self-expression create an intangible value beyond the mere cloth.
The Fox has never purchased a $200 Armani shirt, but I think this is a fairly accurate characterization of our modern age.
The stock market, the ultimate arbiter of American business success, now places more value on a design-driven company [Apple] than tech titans like Microsoft and Google.
From those that do it well (Amazon, Tiffany & Co.) to those that still need fine-tuning (Facebook, Walmart), all brands are challenged to consistently deliver coherent and satisfying product and service experiences to customers.
Coherent and satisfying experiences is worth repeating in case you’re skimming. People don’t buy a $300 phone or $500 iPad so they can have mediocre, convoluted experiences.
The crux of the problem is that building great experiences is everyone’s responsibility and nobody’s job. Since the brand, the products, and the services are intertwined, whose responsibility is it to fix the situation? Which budget will fund it, and how will success be measured?
Success relies on understanding the specific components that create an overall experience and how those components are delivered. Because the design of that experience crosses internal divisions, this demands the breakdown of budgetary and organizational silos.
Internal divisions and budgetary silos certainly provide some value (otherwise almost every company on the planet wouldn’t organize this way, right?) but in this new experiential industry what is the true cost of operating in departmental vacuums?
The industry understands how to quantify sales, awareness, conversation, referral, and click-through rates. Measuring experience is far murkier. Brands have to empathize with users to understand which elements–measurable or not–shape their experiences, and transform how they work together to create those experiences.
How do we quantify empathy? How do we quantify how upset or confused a customer has become? We see it every day. We largely know our own blind spots and shortcomings. But an inability to work cohesively across departmental lines will cripple our ability to deliver truly delightful and memorable experiences.
Fox Tip: Think like a Chief Experience Officer
It’s worth noting that everyone I know who’s happiest with Facebook uploads whatever they want, including ugly, low-resolution photos, garbage meme-images, random, hyper-compressed videos, and the rest of the junk that they find interesting. It all looks insane in Paper. Wanting users to spring for DSLRs and learn how to shoot their kale salad with a shallow depth of field so that the very lovely new app you’ve built isn’t ruined by their tastelessness is exactly backwards.
Interesting take on how Design and designers may be losing credibility by not delivering solutions people actually want.
“At Apple, there’s almost a joy in looking at your ignorance and realizing, ‘Wow, we’re going to learn about this and, by the time we’re done, we’re going to really understand and do something great.’ Apple is imperfect, like every large collection of people. But we have a rare quality. There is this almost pre-verbal, instinctive understanding about what we do, why we do it. We share the same values.”
Having that understanding of “what we do and why we do it” buried so intensely deep into the culture is the treasured gold that so many other companies are really trying to duplicate – not a product, but a purpose.