With the release of the Iphone a couple of days ago I started thinking a lot about user interfaces and what makes them good or bad. The Iphone is an interesting example to evaluate because for the most part it doesn’t bring a single new technology to the cell phone/smart phone market. The reason everyone is so excited about it is because Apple is known for fantastic user interfaces and an uncompromising commitment to the customer experience. Are there phones available with more features than the Iphone for less money? Sure, but I don’t want to use most of them because while the features are great they are mostly a pain to use. This is bad news for companies like Microsoft, Palm, and Blackberry who rely on users lust for features to continue the relentless upsell of their latest products.
A good user interface opens up possibilities that previously were either too difficult or too cumbersome to do before. Microsoft should be thanking Apple for opening a market that they have been unable to bring to fruition themselves, the fusion of the cell phone and music player. There are many devices that do this now, but none have gained significant traction and most are a pain to use and/or the pricing structure is the equivalent of a slap in the face of the customer. Users that see how easy it is to do things that they previously hated to do (Like listen to voicemail) on their old phones will see how much better the experience can be when the user interface isn’t an afterthought for the company bringing a product to market.
So how does this affect Bluehost? It doesn’t really except to say that we realize that some of our user interfaces are good while others are terrible. We know our “Domain Manager” is in desperate need of a complete redesign (Already in the works), and a new control panel layout is already on the way and will be rolled out soon. It is always a hard decision to know what to show the customer and what to keep hidden, while still giving them control over all that they want to change. I hope we do a fairly good job in most respects, but feel free to comment and tell what what user interface changes need to happen sooner than later at Bluehost to keep you a happy customer
Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com