User experience is so important, yet so often overlooked. I experienced an interesting contrast in user experience a few months back. I had been thinking about downloading a reader app to my Android phone when I got an e-mail from Barnes and Noble about their browser-based version of the Nook. They sweetened the deal with 6 free books.
I decided to give it a try (after all the books would work on the Android version of the Nook as well). The reader set up went easy enough, but when I tried reading a book I couldn’t see the whole page and there were no scroll bars. The mouse didn’t help either. I couldn’t get it to work. It may have been something I was doing wrong, but I did try it in both Firefox and Internet Explorer (and I am not a novice computer user). It was a bad experience that certainly didn’t encourage me to go with the Nook. I did try for a free book, however. I picked the book, put it in my cart and checked out. It wanted my credit card for a free book! By then I was really frustrated and gave up. More black marks for the Nook experience.
I then installed the Kindle software on my phone, which went very smoothly. I browsed Amazon’s list of free kindle books and selected one. It immediately started downloading to my phone and I got an e-mail with my “order” summary. No credit card, no fuss. The whole experience was seamless and effortless.
Wow, what a contrast. The Nook experience was awkward and difficult, making it quite unpleasant. The Kindle experience was smooth, effortless and, in contrast, quite delightful. I have since downloaded other books from Amazon, and checked out library e-books and read them with the Kindle app on my phone. Very handy when sitting in waiting rooms, airports, etc.
I will note that I have made numerous purchases from both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and will continue to do so, but I will not be buying a Nook any time soon.
The lesson here is pay attention to the full experience. Don’t send out an e-mail encouraging people to try an application that is just going to frustrate them. Don’t make them enter a credit card for a free book, even if it is easier for your developers. This is where Apple excels. They don’t just have cool computers or MP3 players, or phones. They provide a complete, fun, engaging experience.
As an e-reader, there probably isn’t much difference between the Kindle and the Nook. However, my experience with the browser-version of the Nook (which sounded so easy and convenient), pushed me away from the Nook and firmly into the Kindle camp.