I miss Google 411, I really do. It was super easy to use, it got me connected with the business I was inquiring about in just a few seconds and didn’t burden me with unnecessary options. As luck would have it, the same day I was out running errands and wanted to call my favorite Chinese place in town for take out is the same day Google shut down their service.
Having heard of Microsoft’s free 411 service (1-800-Bing-411) I decided to give it a shot. The service itself worked fine, but was so much more complicated than it needed to be. This really got me thinking about software development and user experience. Getting the user what they are after in as few actions as possible is something that every application should strive for, yet I see time and again that so many simple workflows are blogged down with an overly complicated workflow.
Lets take a look at the differences in the user experience using these two free 411 services for the simple use case of wanting to look up and call a business