Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Ring in the user experience issues!

Yesterday, we bought a Ring video doorbell ( We were interested in being able to answer the doorbell from anywhere via an app and speak to the guest, so that we could remotely see who is on the porch, even if they don't ring the bell. It also has optional cloud storage so that you can go back six months to review footage and share with neighbors or law enforcement. The doorbell comes with a free 30-day trial of the cloud service, and then it's $30 annually. Not a bad price. Plus, it comes with proprietary screws that hopefully thwarts thieves who want to take it. But, if they do take it, the company will replace it free of charge. I was planning to defer starting the 30-day trial until our construction fence is down.

All great features. This blog post reads like an advertisement, right? Almost.

I opened the package and easily connected the doorbell to the app, including entering a password into the app. Lo and behold, I get an email that tells me that the 30-day trial has started. And, when I log into my account, it does not accept my password. I looked up customer support options and saw a chat option. Hallelujah! Oh, wait, it's just text, no link. I am beginning to have my doubts about this company.

I sent an email to their customer service team, and (happy happy joy joy) they write me back within minutes. They tell me that the 30-day trial starts as soon as you activate the doorbell, and the chat link is on the site. :-|

I understand that not everyone (in fact, almost no one!) will take their time with a remodel as we are. And, the annual fee is low. But, I still wanted to opt in. I still wanted to make that choice. Plus, Shay at Ring Doorbell, I looked and looked and looked for the chat link before asking you about it, so it's frustrating to be told that the link is there when I really can't find it. Oh, wait. I found it. It's a right-side, vertical tab that flies out to link to support options. Head slap.

So, what's all this mean, other than it's time to put my Perspective Girl hat back on and realize yet again that this is a small thing in a big world? It means that the work that I do, that many amazing colleagues do, to fully analyze and understand product user experiences so that they can be improved is important work that can help tremendously. The speed with which I went from being excited about this product to feeling a bit shaky about them and their systems tells me yet again the value of empathy in product design and the huge ("HUUUUGE!") importance of product design research.

Product demo video on YouTube

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