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There are a slew of recent updates to Skype across all platforms including desktop and touch enabled devices (mobile and tablet). They were forced upon me (on my desktop and mobile phone, the app automatically updated). It seems like they are not supporting older versions anymore ( according to ComputerWorld ).

Whoever led the interaction design should be fired.

  1. First, the new desktop app doesn’t take advantage of the whole screen. I have two large displays, and what I get is my chat transcript centered at 600 pixels wide. Why can’t it use my whole screen like before?
  2. Second, the color palette is just awful! The palette doesn’t provide enough contrast between the content and the design elements for it to be useful. Someone at Microsoft wants us to REALLY make an effort to read chats. This is the new Skype: We have to squint and REALLY concentrate to read chats.
  3. The last point brings me to this: The app is not designed for the older demographic. Of course, I act as the de facto IT guy for my extended family. With the latest upgrade, I get more calls than every before. Their complaints:
  4. Letters are too small – can read the words
  5. Can’t figure out who’s online from the list (because the filter for the “online” list is so small that people can’t read it, and have a hard time tapping on it)
  6. Can’t figure out how to end a call (on iPhone) – Okay, who took away the global “start call / end call” buttons? Why must you now tap into an item in your chat transcript to get back into an active call?
  7. Swiping amongst the screens are clunky. Even I have trouble swiping between the “recent”, “favorites”, and “people” screens.
  8. International dialing is clunk – Okay, this is not all that bad. The issue my mom has is that she lives in Taiwan. So, her contact phone numbers don’t have country code entered because technically, they are local calls for her. There is no way for her to copy and paste the phone numbers and select the country to dial, except to first copy the phone number into her notepad, then append the 011 886 to the beginning of the number, then copy the whole number back into skype, and it would then select the country according to the international country code.

One thing I fear when Skype was acquired by Microsoft is that the user experience is ruined. Microsoft is not a company that has the talent in that department, nor is it a company that has the culture that encourages those creative thinkers to come up with innovative experiential interactions.

The desktop and mobile app both disappoint. And, it alienates a large segment of the older demographic.

I beg (interaction) designers to consider the older consumers when creating apps that are used by a large audience.