User experience with Scrabble

by Alistair Gray on 21 March 2011

My name’s Alistair, and I’m a Scrabble addict.

I can’t stop. I’ve got 2 scrabble apps. The official one (Scrabble) and a pretender to the throne (Words With Friends). But which app would I recommend?

Functionality-wise each has an advantage over the other. Words With Friends offers remote online play (with ‘friends’), whilst Scrabble allows up to 4 people to play on one device, and single player play against a computer. I would say it’s about honours even.

In spite of this I play Words With Friends infinitely more than Scrabble. Why is this? The simple reason is that Words With Friends has a significantly better user experience.

This applies even before you’re into the game. Words With Friends allows multiple games to be played, and they can be played at once, with a single ‘click’ to start playing. Scrabble only allows 1 game to be saved at any one time. Want to play a quick game with your friends, but have a game in progress already? You must choose between then – which do you want more? Resuming a game is a real effort too, with 3 slow ‘clicks’ required, through confusing menu screens.

The better user experience of Words With Friends continues through play – the touch controls are more responsive, and the visual style is easier to look and and take in quickly.

Both applications offer a ‘shuffle’ ability. With a light flick of the wrist the Words With Friends letters are mixed before your eyes. To use the Scrabble shuffle feature you must shake so hard that you’ve pretty much got to dislocate your own wrist. The letters fall off the screen, and are replaced in a different order, but because the letters leave the screen I was initially unsure if I’d just swapped all my letters!

Finally the blank letter tile is handled so much more elegantly in Words With Friends, where the player is offered the entire alphabet in a single screen (1 ‘click’), whereas in Scrabble you must scroll through the alphabet to the letter you want (many, many ‘clicks’).

My name’s Alistair, and I’m a Scrabble addict. I can’t control my urges, but I will go to the application that gives me the best experience.

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