Web 2.0 Really Sucks Sometimes

Fellow blogger and Twitterer and leading warrior in the field of blogocombat Steven E. Streight (Vaspers the Grate) has been on a tirade (I use this in a positive sense) lately against the insidious usability errors prevalent in far too many of the sites and web applications that are being called Web 2.0. If you thumb through his Twitter archives (beware: it’s addictive, once you find some folks who actually make quality updates), you’ll see a lot of great insights about what’s missing, what’s broken, and what just sucks.

He has also come up with a list of 20 of the top problems with Web 2.0 and written it up (long-form, like the good ol’ pre-Twitter days) on his blog. Here’s a taste of one of his points, relevant because I tend to talk about Facebook rather often on this site, even though I use it extremely rarely:
(7) insufficient input choices

Example: on Facebook, when you add a Contact or Friend or whatever the hell they call it, a panel appears, asking you "how do you know this person?"

But there possible answers provided are leaning toward casual friendships, school, and romantic entanglements, making it like the MySpace toilet. There is no "met via blogging" or "on another social networking site". So you have to select "met randomly", then a text entry box pops up, so you can explain what you mean.
I’ve run into this issue often as well, and think it’s just plain stupid not to give more choices. It’s trivial coding-wise to add more, and now that the site is open to more than just college students, it’d be nice to have some more “adult” choices.

He calls me out for using the handle Frivmo on Twitter, instead of my real name (Kevin M. Keating because there’s too many wellish-known Kevin Keating’s to fight against in Google - though I’m currently ruling Spock) or company name (Which one? The one that’s just my name that gets used when I do taxes? Frivolous Motion, Deliberate Motion, cakeeating, The Vino Tinto Love Song Band? I admit I haven’t done the best job branding up to this point, because I’m still working out how each of my different businesses/services/portfolios need to interact. I have reserved the Frivmo domain name, which just so happened to be available, even at a time when seemingly every pronounceable 5 and 6 letter “word” has been scooped up for use by some “jumping on the bandwagon” startup, and I do plan on building this brand in one way or another. Just haven’t gotten there yet, unfortunately.), but I’m not sure he’s doing it just as an example of a nickname, or because he really thinks it’s a bad choice. I could see either being true.

In any event, he is right about that point - that companies need to make it easy for users to find them all over the Web - though another of his points (about the failure of many web services to provide short, readable, guessable URLs) gets in the way of that on occasion.

The important thing running through all his points is an assertion that things just need to freakin’ work properly. Not a single request is unreasonable. Not a single point adds cost to a project. These are all things that ought to be a given. The Web has been around over 10 years now - there is no excuse to fail to do these things.

His conclusion is perfect:
All these problems, annoyances, and headaches could be avoided by running user observation tests on 4 to 8 typical users.

Instead, they slap the crappy "Beta" label on it. Beta means screw the users. Beta means mediocre, "don't worry, be crappy" garbage. Beta means they're too lazy, stupid, or cheap to do code testing and usability analysis on their products.
Seriously. If your site works less well than MySpace, you are in really bad shape.

Link, in case you missed it up there.