Are some companies using bad UX for attention?

RISKAs I finished reading this article, NY Times Readers Comment on Comments by @usertesting the thought occurred to me that the NY Times and/or other companies are purposefully rolling out “unfinished” user experiences? This strategy would be to get feedback from the fans, without doing user testing in a formal setting. A cost savings? I wouldn’t think so, but I don’t have that inside information.

Most companies shutter at the thought of getting negative comments from their users, which is understandable. Rule #1 – Don’t tick off your fan base. Except in this case, the NY Times has a huge following and by responding to the “fans” and making the user experience change that they requested, the users felt like they contributed to making the NY Times application better.

Rule #2 – Break Rule #1 if you intend on making your fan base feel warm and fuzzy!

The other thing to note is that large companies that react to users complaints and make a user experience change are quickly called to attention in the media. Think of how Google+ rolled out to the world. Limited by invite to get a small sample feedback. Those early adapters felt privileged and also felt like they contributed to something bigger than themselves. “Oh my gosh, the Google+ Team actually listened to me!”

Maybe my theory is wrong. Did someone put together a strategy to implement bad user experiences, listen to their user base, make the change(s) they want and then gain more user confidence and loyalty? Or was it just poor user testing then a reaction to panic and negative responses?

I’m thinking strategy, what do you think?


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