We’re big believers in the importance of usability at The Bivings Group.  Online, usability is branding.  If your site is hard to use, visitors will lose patience and take their eyeballs elsewhere.  It is just common sense really. 

Inevitably, usability is about the details.  It isn’t one big thing, but tens or hundreds of little things.

Today, I came across a good example of a frustrating UI mistake on the new discovery platform Scoville.  After signing up for the service, I was taken to a screen that allowed me to quickly follow my Foursquare friends that are using Scoville.  For any new social service this is a critical screen, as value depends on the network effect.  If I can quickly find friends/colleagues using the service, there is a good chance I’ll stick around and find value.

Below is the add friends page:


There is one major usability problem with this page. 

When you click on the “Follow” button to add someone, the button subtly changes to read “Following” instead.  The difference between “Follow” and “Following” may seem obvious as you look at the screenshot above.  I can assure you it wasn’t obvious to me as I used the actual page. 

I spent a minute on the page clicking the “Follow”/”Following” button repeatedly, not realizing I was changing my selections.  I thought the page was broken.  I was about to bail on the service when I suddenly understood what was happening. 

This is a problem easily solved by creating more differentiation between the “Follow”/”Following” options.  Have the labels be slightly different colors.  Change “Following” to “Added.”  Anything would be better.

This may not seem like a big deal.  My criticism may seem nitpicky.

But it is a big deal. A marginal improvement (10-20% better retention) in the usability of this page could have a huge impact for an online service such as Scoville. 

When designing a good UI, these sorts of details are everything. 

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.