Ms. Dewey: Taking cute too far

Ms. Dewey: Taking cute too far

Summary: If you haven't seen Ms. Dewey, you will probably be hearing about her.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Microsoft
7

Ms. DeweyIf you haven't seen Ms. Dewey, you will probably be hearing about her. She's trying to kill the memory of Jeeves, who you formerly asked. She's also a disaster as far as UI goes. 

Built in Flash, Ms. Dewey is an antropomorphized search page that features an actressMs. Dewey is only slightly more pleasant than Scuzz the Rat in Microsoft Bob who apparently spent about 20 minutes in front of a green screen making chit-chat that loops as you contemplate your search and the results. She gets impatient, calls "Type something here," taps the screen and asks if anyone is out there, pouts (she's hot, so she can get away with it like Jeeves never could, a conceit that is sexist on innumerable levels), but mostly proves, as Google Blogoscoped put it, that she—the search interface—is "inhumanly dumb."

She takes a long time to load and forces you to endure a joke before searching.

Ms. Dewey also takes her sweet time getting results and displays them in a window smaller than the actress, which is fundamentally missing the point of search. The delay seems to be due to the system examining the result to contextualize the performance, as there are reportedly some Easter Egg responses to the most obvious juvenile searches, like "boobs." It's the worst kind of abuse of user interface design and user time.

Who wants a search engine that pouts? Who wants a search engine that, as you browse the results repeats imprecations for attention? 

Didn't the developer realize that the Mute button included on the home page was a clear sign they'd made something annoying? 

Ms. Dewey is the wrong way to go about building a better search engine. From a business standpoint, who seriously thinks that the brand can scale beyond idle curiousity—can they chain this woman to her green screen for all eternity? I don't think so, and I hate to imagine the results.

Ms. Dewey is only slightly more pleasant than Scuzz the Rat in Microsoft Bob (who you cannot see here, thanks to Ms. Dewey, who doesn't do image search and took 14 seconds to display some Bob-related results, because she had a schtick to do).

God, I hate bad UI. 

Topic: Microsoft

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

7 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • UX not UI

    Based on your rant, it sounds like you hate bad "user experiences", not UI. Poor UI typically results in a bad user experience, but not necessarily the other way around. I don't see anything too dismal about the UI, except perhaps the lack of readability in the search returns. The scrolling mechanism is debatable. Other than that, the "UI" is fairly usable. As for whether or not people are willing to put up with the ancilliary experiences this site offers, TBD, but unlikely.

    The better question is whether or not this experience is [b]appropriate[/b] for the task at hand.
    seethroughskin
    • Product is both interface and experience

      I don't think you can have a delightful and intelligently designed
      user interface and produce a horrible user experience. The two
      are deeply related and Ms. Dewey falls down terribly on both.
      But, the UI is horrible?hard to use, slow due to the overhead
      imposed by the display of information through the Flash
      presentation (not because of Flash, but because the actress and
      the schtick come first), and it provides very little functionality
      given the vast amount of space the UI demands. It's a crappy UI,
      too.

      Do you really think the UI is "fairly usable," let alone appropriate
      for the task at hand?
      Mitch Ratcliffe
      • Sure you can

        Aside from the things seethroughskin mentioned, there's nothing particularly wrong with the UI. It's intended to produce video banter along with cursory search results, and that's what it does. It's not hard to use at all. It is slower than, say, Google, but that is to be expected, given that the search engine is really just a tacked-on novelty to get you to interact with the character. The search results are hard to read, which was mentioned, and they could easily fix that.

        See, the problem is that you assume that the "functionality" is the search results, when clearly the dominant functionality is the woman making sarcastic comments about the things you type in. The "task at hand" is clearly entertainment, and if you assumed otherwise, that's your fault. It's kind of like complaining that the Subservient Chicken didn't give you nearly enough information about chicken.
        paferg
  • Search for Linux and open source and you will get some funny responses!

    Obviously a nice search engine for a gimmick but no real work to be done.
    whieber
  • RE: Ms. Dewey: Taking cute too far

    where is the fun?? ,dude she is hot and i like putching search terms in her textbox.....maybe you took the proper design in a search UI experience to far.
    twoencore1
  • Your kidding me.

    where is the fun?? ,dude she is hot and i like typing search terms in her textbox.....maybe you took the proper design in a search UI experience to far...have a beer watch the nice lady and do some searching..
    twoencore1
  • RE: Ms. Dewey: Taking cute too far

    my only problem was I often forgot what it was I was searching for
    wheelnut53-23194528461726545454446480937996