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Web-Based Applications

In the last few days my wife and I have fought Blogger and SurveyMonkey. For two applications that are used by a lot of people, especially writers and academics, the applications are horrible.

When an engineer and computer programmer can't figure out the choices to accomplish basic tasks, something is wrong.

I have used Blogger for several years. This is a great platform, but some of the tools need improvement. The help to accomplish tasks leaves much to be desired. We wanted to create a multi-author blog. While we were able to get the setup to allow anyone to post, the author name was always the same. It took several passes through the settings to realize you needed to create special "inbox" addresses for each author.

Sure, it was a logical fix once we realized the issue, but it wasn't obvious on the surface. That's not good.
Also, the editor has some problems with formatted e-mail. I wish the editor were more like Google's Doc application. After all, Google does own Blogger. I am sure that change will arrive soon, but it can be annoying to edit posts.

SurveyMonkey was tedious to setup a moderately long survey. Again, a great tool, but not easy to use for some things.

I wanted to skip questions if they did not apply to a situation. SurveyMonkey skips complete pages, based on the last question on a page. This means you have to create several short "pages" to skip questions. The result is a very long survey if you want to skip sections based on answers. I would like an option to "Skip to Question X" instead of "Skip to Page X." to make things smoother.

It took hours and hours to create a 21-question survey. Really! I had to break questions that on a form were two or three-part queries into separate questions. This changes the wording, out of necessity. The changes were minor, but when you make such changes you have to resubmit the questions to the IRB for quick approval. Minor thing, but annoying.

Losing a day was not a problem, but complex logic would be nice within SurveyMonkey. Still, it beats the old ways of doing surveys!

I just want to see more usability testing of Web applications. Eventually, things will be better as technologies improve.


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