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12/09/2004 Archived Entry: "WORST. INTERFACE. EVER."
Posted by CKL @ 01:19 PM PST

I just bought and downloaded the "Angel digital EP"-- 10 tracks from the upcoming soundtrack CD-- from the crappy Fox Music store, which is "powered by" the unbelievably user-hostile Navio web service. Can't be that bad, you say? Oh, yes, it can.

First of all, in the top left corner of every freakin' page is this helpful information:

IE 5.5+, Flash 7+, 1024x768, WMA media player

Every page. Whether you need it or not. Every page. As far as I can tell, it's there to rub your nose in the fact that you've agreed to jump through an unreasonable number of hoops just to view the goddamn web site, which was clearly built by sadististic egomaniacs.

And then there's the actual commerce system. It requires IE and Flash. If you don't have Flash installed, you have to reboot after installation to make it work. Annoying. Once you do have it "working" (I use the term very loosely here), you get a barely-visible icon on the right side of your browser window. It hovers over your scroll bar, which is the only way I was able to locate it-- by the dead area on my screen which normally should do something when I click on it.

Oh, it gets better.

That icon is a Flash object, which expands when you click on it into a tiny, non-resizable rectangle in which you have to do everything commerce-related-- create an account, login, save your payment info, and purchase whatever you've put into your shopping cart. EVERYTHING. There is no alternative interface, as far as I can tell; every single link on the web page-- I'm not kidding here-- is a javascript function, even simple links to static info pages. That's right, everything is javascript. Why? Well, that's the question of the century, isn't it?

Finally, to add one more insult to injury, you can't pay with real money. Oh no. You have to buy "Fox Dollars" and use those to purchase your items. Repeat after me: What the fuck? I have to enter a credit card anyway, the conversion rate from US Dollars to Fox Dollars is 1-to-1, and I'm never going to use this fake currency for anything else. Why force me to go through this extra step?

What's more, after I've purchased my music, I have to download it one track at a time-- nope, I can't just grab the entire album-- THROUGH THE CRAZY FLASH INTERFACE. Which involves:

1. selecting the "my stuff" view to see what I've bought;
2. double-clicking the album name to see the tracks therein;
3. double-clicking on a song title in the miniature window;
4. finding the miniscule "play/download" link;
5. clicking that;
6. waiting for ANOTHER browser window to open which "authorizes" my download; and
7. finally, getting the download dialog box from my browser so I can open or save the file.

After all that, I've got ten "protected" WMA files on my computer. The music's great-- I knew it would be-- but I certainly wouldn't have gone through this for most of my music purchases. It was time-consuming, annoying, and if it wasn't Angel, I would have given up pretty much immediately.

If you're a record company wondering why your digital music sales aren't taking off, I'll save you the consulting fee and tell you: it's because your e-commerce system sucks. iTunes is the best one I've seen, because it lets me do what I want: find music and buy it. It doesn't get in my way, it doesn't force me to install crap, it doesn't require that I learn a completely new interface which is worse than the one I'm used to.

Anyway. You can hear a 30-second WMA sample of track 2, "Start the Apocalypse", which is underscore by Robert J. Kral. If you want to buy the album, for the love of Joss, WAIT until it's actually released and get the CD. Trust me. No one else should have to suffer as I have.

Replies: 2 comments

Freaking hilarious. I probably would've tried to figure out how to send them a contructive comment on their poor conversion, but I'm guessing they'd require you to use their flash mouse pointer thing to do it.
Best line?
"If you're a record company wondering why your digital music sales aren't taking off, I'll save you the consulting fee and tell you: it's because your e-commerce system sucks."

Posted by Loren @ 12/17/2004 02:50 AM PST

Posted by @ 00/00/ 00:00 PST

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Additional content copyright © 2005 by Loren A. Cheng