Bruce McCarthy is Founder and Chief Product Person at UpUp Labs, where he and his team are at work on Reqqs - the smart roadmap tool for product people.

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Chromecast Wins Fame, iOS7 Wins Shame

Make my life easier and I will tell my friends. Make my life harder and I will tell everyone. That’s my take-away from this year's raft of nominations for the 2013 Product Powers Hall of Fame & Shame.

Hall of Fame

Chromecast, Pocket, FitBit Force and a dozen other products were nominated for Fame, most because they do a great job making things easier for us.

Pocket makes it very easy to capture web content to read later, solving the problem elegantly with a plug-in that works well in all popular browsers and allows you to access it offline any time.

“It does what it's supposed to do and nothing more, nothing less. Very simple and polished interface,” says Daniel.

FitBit Force made an impression as well. I’ll let Scott tell you about it:

“This wearable personal health tracker (wristwatch) tracks most everything you need: activity time, steps, distance, calories and elevation. It also provides data on sleep quality, and the app allows you to track the food (calories) you are eating. Bonus - looks pretty cool doing it!”

Mak adds that “the simplicity and reliability is what gets my vote.”

Google’s Chromecast got the most mentions, though, and is this year’s Hall of Fame winner. Justin summarized it well when he said,

“It's beautiful in that it reduces the complexity of a common task - how do I play content from my device on my television?”

Alexis makes the value proposition clear, saying that,

“At $35, this little gem is a great solution for those not needing all the built-in apps on $99+ products like Apple TV and Roku.”

Special Mentions

Coin gets special mention thanks to Alexis and to several other posters on Twitter who are looking forward to it in 2014. Alexis says:

“If you haven't already heard about it, it's a credit card sized electronic device that allows users to load credit cards, debit cards, gift cards and membership cards on it for use. From what I can tell, security is well thought out, it's super easy to use (and equally not easy to mess up during a transaction), and it really solves a lot of problems for me personally. I'm notorious for losing my cards and also overloading my wallet to an uncomfortable degree. I can't wait until it arrives.”

I can’t wait either!

A shout out also to Steve Johnson who nominated 10 items in one Christmas-themed blog post.

Hall of Shame

iOS7, the Comcast DVR, Windows 8 (last year’s Shame winner), and the confusing controls on my KitchenAid stove were all nominated for Shame because they made things more difficult than they should be. Not a few of them did so by making us change tried and true habits for no apparent benefit.

Lars gave props to Comcast for adding new bugs to their generally reviled DVR interface. He says:

“The latest is that when I press "skip 30 seconds" several times and then press "back 15 seconds" too quickly, it skips back 5 minutes.”

Windows 8’s multiple personality disorder continues to confound users, a year after it won Shame in 2012. Joe says,

“The schizophrenic OS desperately implores people to use its Metro experience, but doesn't have the will power to dump the Desktop experience. Bottom line: It’s confusing and inefficient.”

Apple's iOS7 wins this year’s Hall of Shame award, though, for changing things merely for change’s sake. Controls were moved around, type made harder to read, and familiar gestures modified — and no one I have spoken to can find user benefit in these changes. Daniel says:

“They changed many navigation paradigms that didn't seem to be broken and now are confusing (i.e. the calendar app).”

Another example is the swipe to delete an email. It used to be left to right. Now it’s right to left. Why? Changing it seems completely arbitrary and creates something for upgraders to trip over.

Special Mention

Unfortunately, I also need to mention that Squarespace, the hosting service for ProductPowers, received several complaints from posters whose submissions vanished into the ether or who had a confusing experience, not knowing whether their posts had been captured or how to submit another.

So there you have it. Google -- not known for their usability prowess -- wins by inspiring Justin to say: "Thinking through the jobs-to-be-done in this level of detail is brilliant!" Apple -- known primarily for great design -- loses by confusing and annoying us with an extended design gaffe. 

In other news, GM makes some cool cars while Japanese auto makers lose ground in reliability. The only constant is change.


Thanks to everyone who posted nominations in the comments, on LinkedIn, on Twitter, and via email. Thanks especially to Jim Cook, who was the first to nominate Chromecast and who wins a Product Powers t-shirt. And thanks also to Daniel Elizalde who also wins a t-shirt by first mentioning iOS7. Thanks also to Scott Parlee, Lars Jensen, Joe Baz, Mak Joshi, Justin Williams, and Alexis Schuette whose nominations or quotes were mentioned above. They'll each receive a Product Powers coffee mug.

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