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The swift death of Google’s cupcake feature is a valuable lesson in UX design

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Earlier today, Google rolled out a new feature in Maps for iPhone users in the US, which counted the calories burned when you walked to a certain place and depicted that in equivalent mini cupcakes.

It was quickly panned by many a Twitter user and has already been killed off – that’s perhaps one of the quickest deaths of a feature in a mobile app we’ve seen in recent times.

Users who disliked the feature noted that it could trigger people who suffer from eating disorders, or could make you feel guilty for indulging in sweet treats. In addition, there was no way to disable the cupcake count.

I initially had a hard time wrapping my head around the hate over this feature; I’ve been struggling with my weight for years and I should know a thing or two about food triggers. Clearly, that’s the wrong way to think about this – and about testing design features in general.

The fact is that it’s foolish to assume you know everything about your user base. You can generate profiles based on the data you collect from them, and follow their habits over time, but there’s still a chance that you may have missed something.

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