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Audible.com: a Poor Example of Usability

I’m a subscriber of Audible, an Amazon company, where you pay monthly fee in exchange for a pleasant purchasing experience of audio books. I like listening to the audio books while on the go or lying in bed. My smartphone is always by my side, and Audible created a free application for downloading and listening.

As an extra free bonus, Audible’s subscribers can download morning editions of The Wall Street Journal – listen to the latest news and editorials while commuting to/from work or getting to sleep. Nice! This is how the UI looks on my iPhone.

photo (5)

What would you do if today’s edition of WSJ is not shown in this list? The first reflex should be to refresh the list. Any truck driver from Alabama knows that applications that get content from servers should have this curved arrow to refresh the screen. I thought so too. But the Refresh button was nowhere in the vicinities. After multiple clicks I found the Settings screen, where UI designers have hidden the Refresh button. Why on earth would they do this? There were plenty of real estate on the main view toolbars!

photo (3)

Don’t get me wrong. Audible’s UI designers are not hopeless. They knew that many people would be having troubles finding the Refresh button, so they came up with an unusual solution. They’ve added an explanation of where the Refresh button is in the FAQ section of the app.
Needless to say, that the FAQ itself is hidden under the Settings icon. Well, as Sheryl Crow sang, “No one said it would be easy But no one said it’d be this hard”. But if you’ll find the FAQ, the first item there is “How do I Refresh Library” (ignore the fact that it reads “How to I” – this blog is not about QA). Well, if I get to this screen, the FAQ is sitting right under the “Refresh Library” anyway.

photo (4)

Hopefully, our Alabama truck driver won’t get into an accident while trying to find this well hidden feature. Anyway, as of October of 2013, the iPhone’s version of Audible app leads in my unofficial competition for the worst UI decision.

P.S. See that “Download All” button on the top image? Good luck on canceling dozens of downloads after clicking on it!


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More Stories By Yakov Fain

Yakov Fain is a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay. He wrote a thousand blogs (http://yakovfain.com) and several books about software development. Yakov authored and co-authored such books as "Angular 2 Development with TypeScript", "Java 24-Hour Trainer", and "Enterprise Web Development". His Twitter tag is @yfain

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