Kindle registration = Usability fail?

18 Sep

My parents got a bit carried away at Otto’s school fete on Saturday and bought themselves a Kindle. They’ve been eagerly eyeing mine, and bought one for the Bigster for her birthday, so I suspect they had been working up to it for some time.

I love the feel of a paper book, but I also love the immediacy of a Kindle. I buy a lot of free/on special books, which is where the Kindle really shines, but I also use it for reference books when searchability is an issue.

On Sunday, I went to set up their Kindle and link it to my Amazon account (trusting that they won’t figure out the marketplace in a hurry … do you think I should be worried?),  and discovered something interesting.

See, I find the Kindle incredibly easy to use. You turn it on, use the “five way controller” to find what you want, page back and forth … it’s all there. And my parents had seen me use it and had tried it out and also found it easy. And they’re just nerdy enough to want a new toy.

But before they could use their Kindle, we had to register it. And this is a massive undertaking that took us quite literally 39 minutes (I checked my call logs).

Here’s what we found:

  • The Kindle (they have the Keyboard model) is quite unforgiving. Mum’s hands shake a bit, and sometimes she accidentally pressed the wrong key, then had to exit what she was doing to go back. Getting the wrong Symbol is particularly annoying.
  • The Kindle starts with the manual page open. I suspect it would be better to start with the Registration page. It took us quite a while to get there.
  • It’s easy to press the wrong button and the Kindle doesn’t give very informative error messages. Maybe this is a wish for mind-reading though – mum accidentally typed my email address wrongly (she typed melisssa – you’d think she’d know by now!) and it said “no username found”.
  • There was some anxiety when – after completing the registration process successfully – the first link on the screen she was returned to was ‘deregister’.

So here’s what could have been done better:

  • The Kindle should start with the registration page. Rewrite it to include a couple of basic usage tips if necessary, but be ready to receive the information required.
  • I should have been able to register the Kindle using the web interface. I’m sure this is possible in theory, as my own Kindle (bought through Amazon) arrived registered to me. Give me the serial number and I could have entered it straight away. Even if mum had then had to enter a password, at least it would have been one thing rather than many.

I suspect this is less of an issue for people in countries where Kindles are sold through Amazon, but in Australia we often buy through a third-party reseller (or, apparently, at school fetes).

That said, once she finally managed to register, we were in gravy. She scrolled through my archives, checking which books she wanted to read, while I scrolled through the web interface and sent some over to her. The web interface works well and mum was amazed to see things just appearing – the 3G is really excellent.

The only issue is going to be when she and dad want to read the same book, and have to fight over where it syncs to… I have a suspicion they might end up wanting another one.

So overall verdict: Kindle good, registration bad. I did reassure her repeatedly that the registration process is the hardest thing she will ever have to do on there.

It’s just a shame that they haven’t simplified it.

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Posted by on September 18, 2012 in books, work


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