Wednesday, 27 November 2013

HTC Maximizes User Frustration with their UX Design

It's a sad day when I have to write a negative post about an app that was built by one of the Android phone manufacturers I really like. But in this case I just cannot not write this.

This app is so full of mistakes in UX design that I don't even know where to start. This app could actually be good but in its current state it is one of the most frustrating apps to use.

Incorrect touch feedback

The app is mostly composed with HTC's custom tile layout. While I'm not personally a fan of it there's really nothing wrong with it. But what I'm not fine with is the deceptive touch feedback on the tiles. For some reason the app wants to make you believe that every tile is tappable. That's not the case, however. While every single tile does react to taps (it gets pressed down) only few of them actually lead to somewhere. The app is lying to users and creating disappointment after disappointment. 

In this example tapping the score or the location doesn't do anything while tapping the team icons and the bottom three tiles actually do.

How to fix: Clearly distinguish tappable components from non-tappable ones. Do not add button down states to components that don't do anything.

Confusing navigation

The app makes users easily confused about where they are in the app's navigation hierarchy. On Android the text on the action bar should always tell the name of the screen where the user is. For some unknown reason HTC has decided to sometimes show the current screen title and sometimes show the title of the screen where the up (back in this app) will take the user when tapped.

Here's couple of examples. On the left I'm reading the highlights of the Champions League. I tap one of the articles and the action bar title now changes to "Highlights".

In the above example the user might still understand what is going on after pausing for a bit and but it is much, much worse elsewhere in the app.

In the example below I'm at the post match screen. The screen title is correct. "Post Match". I tap one of the teams and I'm taken to the team page. But wait a minute!? The screen title now says "Clubs", plural. I've clearly selected Arsenal and every page in the viewpager is only Arsenal related information. The screen title should say "Arsenal".

Now, this took a little bit work to figure out what's happening here (I initially thought that it's just a typo). The reason this screen says "Clubs" in the action bar is that there's another way to get to this screen: via a clubs list. So this screen title is actually a title of a higher level screen that is in another navigation tree. And as they're not implemented the up functionality correctly tapping the up button takes me back to the post match screen. Incredibly misleading!

How to fix:
 Very simple fix in this case as well. The action bar always tells the user where they are. Change each screen to reflect that. The app's up navigation should also be fixed. Up != Back.

Notification spam and incorrect notification title
This app spams the user like no other app I've ever seen. It literally notifies me every minute if I use the app. In fact, I think they have tied a notification to app closing event. Who approved this?

The content of the notification has no value to users.

How to fix:
 Don't do this. This is just stupid.

Another issue with the app's notification is much more minor but still should be fixed. For some reason the app users the app name as the notification title.

How to fix: Notification title should be the event title, not the app title. Just use the match name when there are multiple events in the same notification or the event name when there's only one.

Tablet what?

The app does not scale nicely to larger screens and is locked to portrait.

How to fix: some of the screens in the app work pretty well on larger screens as well. But some could use some large screen love. And remove the portrait locking. Nobody should ever do that.


There you have it. The app is not great but could be. How did the company behind such gems as HTC G1 and Nexus One let this to the store I don't know. I just know that it makes me sad. Let's hope HTC fixes these issues soon.

If you want to try the app yourself you can find it on Google Play.