12seconds.tv - Reinventing the Usability Wheel
Today I signed up for 12seconds.tv, a kind of Twitter for video that allows you to post 12 second video clips. I'm not actually interested in using it, but it's best to get your username in early in case you get interested later. After completing the sign up process I was taken to the standard "complete your profile" page which included an option to choose your timezone. This is a pretty standard web control, usually a little cumbersome but fairly well understood. You pick your timezone from the standard list. In my case it's usually London (GMT) or something like that. The 12seconds version looks like this:What is that? Obviously it's a non-standard control and it appears to be trying to get me to perform some sort of clock mental arithmetic. At first glance, all the options appear to be the same. Now I know what they were trying to achieve, but they have made it a lot harder than it should be. First of all, they have changed what my understanding of a timezone dropdown should be, so my first reaction is to be confused. Secondly, the information presented all looks the same. There are 32 characters of identical information before getting to the part that actually lets you work out what information they want you to make a decision on. Thirdly, they have tried to take part of the "normal" scheme of things and put it at the end. The +/- from GMT is well understood, but here it looks like they are giving you a time and then adding it on. Since none of those options will give you the correct time it becomes very confusing. The sad thing is, they could be onto something. I don't know if timezone dropdowns are confusing to users normally, but they could have massively simplified this and made it easy to use. If I was reinventing this dropdown and was trying to implement similar functionality I would have done it like this: What time is it where you are? The options are simpler, the information quicker to scan and the question doesn't raise expectations of what will be in the list. You could argue the merits of am/pm vs 24hour clock and you may run into issues at the International Date Line, but the concept should be clear. Without really implementing this I'm not sure if it improves usability over a normal time zone picker, but I'm certain is can't be as bad as their current implementation.