community, flock

Total User Experience Matters

A couple of days ago, I posted an appeal to the women of the Flock community to emerge from the woodwork and let us know they were here. I was looking through my queue of potential blog spam today and found a valid comment. It’s more of a gold nugget, really, and it’s particularly timely given some discussion recently about Flock’s integrated experience as compared to Firefox plus miscellaneous extensions (all kicked off by the by-now notorious if superb Performancing extension).

Tara “Miss Rogue” Hunt authored the comment, which points over to a vlog entry wherein she speaks (apparently spontaneously) with great enthusiasm about Flock (following what I have to confess is a much less inspiring bit of marketing by Bart and Geoffrey). I’m going to take a minute here to paraphrase some of what she said:

When I opened up Flock for the first time, I saw the things I expected to see. There’s the back button and refresh button, and there’s the address bar. Oooh, what’s this star? A button with stars on it, and I like stars. I click it and it prompts me for my del.icio.us information and suddenly I see my del.icio.us links with all my tags. Wow! And then I click this button and I’m suddenly blogging from right here in the browser. I have died and gone to Heaven! And then I see this little dropdown and I can pull down my Flickr photos and drag them into my blog entries.

Seeing the sort of enthusiasm Tara projects for the vision we’re trying to unfold sort of makes all the jabs and occasional bouts with uncertainty worthwhile. Firefox is a wonderful product, and its extensibility is brilliant. And there are many superb extensions out there. As we’ve said many times, however, a big part of what Flock offers is an overall user experience. It’s exciting to think about people opening up our browser and discovering all these neat features with the sort of wonderment Tara displays rather than having to roll their own rather more fragmented experience by hunting around for addons. It seems to me rather like the difference between building your own powerful home computer from components and getting a similar pre-built computer. Many people enjoy building their own or have needs that pre-packaged computers don’t offer. This is a valid position. Many others want a fairly predictable subset of options and lack either the technical chops or the simple desire to build their own.

Luckily, Flock offers sort of the best of both worlds. While offering a polished and well-integrated user experience that’s very appealing to (at least) the blogging set, Flock also comes with the extensibility of Firefox. Like our favorites handling but don’t like the blog tool? Install the Performancing extension into Flock and have the best of both experiences. We’ve acknowledged from the beginning that Flock won’t be for everybody. We’re working toward providing an experience in the long run, however, that will more often than not provoke wonderment and relief in those who try our browser out.

Many thanks to Tara for the testimonial and for chiming up as one of Flock’s female users. Now where are the rest of you? And who else has seen or can provide testimonials that help make the case for Flock as a great total user experience?

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6 thoughts on “Total User Experience Matters

  1. Daryl, one important point… Flockstars come in either flavor of gender. Let’s not be exclusive about that — “Women of Flock” sounds a bit trite — and hey, ignoring my bias, shouldn’t Tara be featured as a Flockstar?!

  2. Chris, I agree entirely that Flockstars should come in either gender. I put out the call for women precisely because only guys have emerged so far, and I wanted to make sure we weren’t being exclusive.

    As far as featuring people as flockstars, we usually look for people who are actively contributing to the project in some measureable way, eg by creating artwork or helping triage bugs. I very much value Tara’s enthusiasm for Flock, but if I made everybody who’s enthusiastic about Flock a flockstar, I’d do nothing but write the flockstar spotlight blog posts. Now if you can nudge Tara into doing some bug reviews…

  3. Also, just for the record, “Women of Flock” was sort of a joke, a corny reference to the whole “Woodsmen of the world, unite” or whatever. It’s a little trite, but it’s intentional. I know I’m just a provincial redneck from the armpit of the South, but give me a little credit. 😉

  4. Daryl,

    I am having trouble finding an email address for you. I wanted to invite you to be our guest in January-please let me know if you can make it…. the User Interface Special Interest Group is a Portland high-tech community of usability professionals- we offer a free 2 hour round table review of your application (Flock).

    more info:
    http://www.portlandusability.com

    I thought it might be valuable for you to have an outside opinion of Flock user experience.

    Drop me some mail if you are interested, we’d love to have you.

    Thanks!
    Frank

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