Musical call tones and mental models

From time to time I have been asked if I know how to deliver Caller Ring Back Tones (CRBT). While it is obviously a popular feature in some parts of the world it has always mildly baffled me.

It’s nice to read that at least one person also finds this odd.

In a more general sense, though, this is interesting from a user-interface point of view.

I’m all in favour of giving users the ability to personalise their service as much as possible. Being able to paint the walls and move the furniture is a great way to get comfortable with a service. But the point of this is that each user is customising their own experience.

CRBT breaks this model. With CRBT, each user is, in effect, customising someone else’s experience. As an approach, this can have significant impact on usability, causing congnitive dissonance, a feeling of powerlessness, and a reluctance to use a service.

If you are designing a service, please think twice before adding features which allow one user to change the experience of another.