I’m having a tough morning.
Last night I realized that a bunch of the contacts on my iPad that I thought had been added to iCloud were actually living in my Google contacts. I wanted all my contacts to live in one place.
So I dragged each of contact over into iCloud. After confirming each contact was, in fact, now living in iCloud, I deleting it from Google. Then I disabled the Google account. I had to do this because whenever you add a contact to Apple Contacts, the app gives no indication of where it is going. Nor does the contact view indicate where the contact is stored. Apple’s designers apparently believed this was irrelevant information, and decided to reduce cognitive load by not showing it. Back when “it just works” was a true marketing slogan, this kind of opacity was welcome simplicity. But now that things often do not work, it provokes anxiety. It is impossible to relax and trust that no news is good news. So even though I took pains to avoid mistakes, I was apprehensive.
And sure enough, this morning I discovered that the contacts I moved are all gone. They did not stay in iCloud, where they appeared to be last night.
I don’t know what happened.
I rarely know, anymore. I just know this is typical and that there is nothing I can do to make things better. It used to not be this way. These things used to work and now they don’t.
I have the same kind of problem with WordPress. I used to love using it. Now every single day, without fail, I’m trying to write something and something just idiotic happens, and trying to resolve the idiocy makes me forget what I was writing.
Today, for instance, I was trying to make one word in a block quote italic. I selected the word and tried to italicize it. When I hit the little italic I button, the entire text block selected itself and became italicized. Another problem is cursor placement. You place the cursor where you want to type. When you start typing, however, the letters appear on the line above. It is distracting and infuriating. And these are just a few of innumerable problems.
In all these cases, I just want to tell the company how frustrating it is that their entire design system is broken. The problem is not just isolated to that one usability issue, but rather, someone has treated the design system as a massive bundle of use cases instead of a design system.
The help desk is not trained for these kinds of complaints. They are trained to walk users through features they do not understand. They cannot take interaction design feedback. Least of are they equipped to take general UI design system feedback.
If 911 operators were trained like software help desk agents, here is how a “my house is on fire” call would go.
Agent: “This 911 emergency services. Thank you for your call. How can I help you today?”
Caller: “Help! My house is on fire!”
Agent: “Ok, I understand. Your house is on fire. Can you help me understand specifically what in your house is on fire?”
Caller: “The whole house is in flames! Help!”
Agent: “It sounds like many things in your house are on fire. Let’s walk through the specific items that are burning. When did you first notice flames in your home?”
Caller: “It isn’t just things inside my house that are on fire. I’m telling you, the entire house is burning to the ground. Can you send a fire engine, please?”
Agent: “I am happy to transfer you to someone who can talk to you about your house, which I understand is on fire. Please hold.”
Robotic Voice: “Thank you for waiting. Your call is very important to us. This is why we understaff our call center to save money. Estimated wait time: 37 minutes.”
Caller: “Hello…? …HELLO???”
So much established software that won market dominance through its superior user experience — has now become complacent in its dominance and allowed itself to decay into profound brokenness. No competitors have emerged to compete with them on user experience, because users — whole industries — are locked in.
I really miss being able to just use my software and being absorbed in my work. Now, invariably, I am interrupted and distracted by bugs, usability issues, unexpected UX “improvements” that require me to relearn stuff, and just trying to get the software to do what I am trying to get it to do.
And there seems to be nothing to do or say about it. These companies are just big, blank, subscription-sucking machines with nobody at home but ambitious young product managers. It would be better nobody were home.