Sunday, March 25, 2012

Undiscoverable Features

We spend a fair amount of time at work discussing the discoverability of features. What's a great feature if the average user can't find it or doesn't know it's there? (Android's biggest discoverability offender, the Menu button, was finally laid to rest with ICS.)

My favorite example for an undiscoverable feature is on the iPhone. (I still use an iPhone for running with Nike+.) When you're running with and hit the "lock" button, the screen turns on to show this:


I bet you didn't know that you can swipe left-to-right on this screen to advance to the next track? (Or vice versa.) You don't see any visual feedback of what's about to happen. I only discovered this by accident after trying to figure out why I kept skipping to the next song.

The best way to fix this would be to add some visual feedback on touchDown - just show a slider with a >>| target on the right, and you're done. Users would notice this the first time they touch the locked screen, and could understand the effect of the swipe.

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