I’ve Become One of the Millions of Clueless Users!

The other day I was playing with the Yahoo! My Web Beta. I could not figure some of the functions out…at all. So I start pinging people up and down my Yahoo! Messenger list, people who still work at Yahoo!.
Nobody is there to help me, except for my buddy Alex. I ask him a few questions about it and even he doesn’t know how to do what I want it to do. He’s not on the search team so he’s not in the know.
As I conversate with Alex over IM, I realize this chilling fact:
As the head design guy at Yahoo!, I typically see a lot of their products at very early stages and build up knowledge of how they work as I see them get designed.
But hey, I’ve been outta that job for 9 months now. So between then and now, two products get launched in beta, My Web and Yahoo! 360.
Yahoo! 360 – another product which I can’t figure out. Trying to find messages, read them, use it as a broken email system, connecting with friends…all these blue underlined DHTML links were so familiar to me before and now they are…unfamiliar.
I think about all the users out there who use Yahoo! products. I think about how complex they’ve gotten over the years, chasing features over functionality – does the 51st feature in a site really make it that much better than the 50th?
And…we gave those users no help whatsoever. They were left to figure out these complex products on their own.
Now…like me. Especially when my buddies on IM won’t answer me. Is it because they know I’ve become clueless and don’t want to associate with me any more? Or maybe they are tired of hearing my incessant complaining…?
Somehow I know I’ve become a better designer for it. I am now unwed to any one company’s products. I use the best of breed for each thing I do on the Net. I compare and contrast freely without feeling any guilt about using my own company’s products. I take note of what works and what doesn’t and file it away for later.
It’s a complex world out there and Darwinian evolution is in full swing – the simplest products survive in the user jungle of the Net.