Updated at least twice a month; This is a blog on usability in India -of software, web, and, consumer products of India. I will also be blogging my observations on how usability affects marketing, product positioning, corporate branding, customer-service and sales. Write to me: sumank ['at'] gmail [dot] com World Usability Day 2006
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Friday, March 05, 2010

 

This blog has moved

This blog is now located at http://uxwatchindia.blogspot.com/. You will be automatically redirected in 30 seconds, or you may click here. For feed subscribers, please update your feed subscriptions to http://sumankumar.com/usability/usability.xml.
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Monday, April 27, 2009

 

IRCTC Calendar Design

IRCTC.co.in is the Indian Railways' ticketing website.

April has only 30 days. I still went ahead and selected 31st April and hit 'Find Trains'. Guess what happened next?


If you know April has only 30 days why would you add 31st to it? Better than designing accurate error messages, is preventing errors. IRCTC seemed to have missed that part.

Recommended Books on Usability
write to me: sumank [at] gmail [dot] com

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Friday, April 24, 2009

 

Quick Review of Travel/Ticketing Websites in India

Travelocity.com

My rating: 2 out of 5

See that screen grab above? Yeah. That's what you're supposed to use to pick a 'From' and 'To'. See how the 'One-way' and 'Return' checking is done. Instead of asking you upfront, they ask you at the end! This is lazy design.

Makemytrip.com

My rating: 2.5 out of 5
Easy to search for flights. But text is difficult to read because the text and BG are not contrasting. But if you are a South Indian and you have an initial for a last name OR if you have two words in your first name (like Suman Kumar), you can't use this site. See screen grabs.

makemytrip.com UX review
See? They want my last name to be at least two characters long!
And, they won't let me write my first as I always have written in. They want it to be SUMANKUMAR. And not SUMAN KUMAR. Hey! It is my name!

Cleartrip.com

My rating: 3 out of 5

Simple and elegant (as compared to the others I mean). No pull-down menus. Just simple text boxes to pick your 'From' and 'To'. The use of Web 2.0 technology... I like them! But, for the position and color of that 'Search flights' button. It should have been 'inside' instead of jumping out... and white text of reddish-orange? And, most irritating is gray text on gray BG in the search results. Guys! come on!

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

 

IPL T20 Website: Sad sad sad!

They use modx CMS, some open-source script if I am not wrong... they advertise this site on TV! After blowing millions of dollars on players and promos, this is what they do to their website. What a shame!

Recommended Books on Usability
write to me: sumank [at] gmail [dot] com

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Monday, April 13, 2009

 

30 Boxes decides how long my last name should be

Oh well. That means a good chunk of Indians can't use 30 Boxes. Big deal!

Recommended Books on Usability
write to me: sumank [at] gmail [dot] com

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

 

Sixth Sense

This demo -- from Pattie Maes' lab at MIT, spearheaded by Pranav Mistry -- was the buzz of TED. It's a wearable device with a projector that paves the way for profound interaction with our environment. Imagine "Minority Report" and then some.

Recommended Books on Usability
write to me: sumank [at] gmail [dot] com

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Friday, February 27, 2009

 

IE Only Websites

I wanted to buy a CD of Avial and their Record Label website said this: musicyogi.com error message The market share of Firefox is at least 30%. This says it is 45%. However, let's assume that it is only 20%. How the hell can any business choose to ignore 20%? Wow! Recommended Books on Usability write to me: sumank [at] gmail [dot] com

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

 

The Future of Touch

Made of foam and force sensors, Impress works with both touch and the intensity of pressure. This computing technology lets the user squeeze out information or put objects in motion by deforming the surface of the computer.
Read more @ Read Write Web

Recommended Books on Usability
write to me: sumank [at] gmail [dot] com

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The Personable Manual

Why do product manuals sound formal and stiff-upper-lipped? Why don�t users read manuals? These questions have haunted the hallowed precincts of Technical Writing for quite some time now. From what I have seen in Indian writers, I am forced to conclude that English Composition, as we were taught in school, is the culprit. Our merit was based on how verbose we were. They judged our style based on how �formal� we were. Take for example, the leave letter. I am sure you have written a few in school or college. Rewind and replay one of those leave letters. Right from the salutation (�Respected sir/madam�) to the signature (�Faithfully/Obediently yours�) it reeks of colonialism. And, we have yet to learn our lessons. In this age of globalization (or globalisation, to my stiff-upper-lip comrades), it is important to pay attention to the three Cs: Consistency, Context, and Culture. The You I have read manuals that say �you can perform this task�� and in the next chapter add, �Users should back up data regularly�. Who is the �you� and who is the �user�? Quite a few of my esteemed friends that are Technical Writers shy away from using �you� in their manuals. Again, it is that skeleton in our cupboards (or closets, if you will, my American friend) called Colonial Composition that proves to be the stumbling block. I do not wish to debate on the aesthetic merit of using (or not using) �you� in our manuals. The goal of your manual is to help users be productive. So let us stick to that story for now. Let us look at an example: 1) If the system displays a blue screen, the OS should re-installed. 2) If your system displays a blue screen, re-install the OS. Let us not discuss active and passive voice. Let us focus on the word �your� that replaces �the�. Both statements offer the same instruction. If you took a poll with your users on which one they liked. I am quite sure they�d pick the one with �your�. Why? Because it is personable. The statement is talking to the user and thus telling the user �there�s something in it for you� and urges action. There is no ambiguity (�OS should be installed? By who?�). And, the �your� statement costs less to Localize. Also, it is important that your product offers a favorable emotional experience to your users. That is where the Colonial Composition fails. Ask any Interaction Designer and she�ll tell you how important Subjective Satisfaction is to the success of any design. Personable Manual Personable writing pays. What would you prefer to read?
"It is recommended that you upgrade your software."
Or
"We recommend that you upgrade your software."
The latter engages you. It makes a convincing statement. It doesn�t hide behind the facade of passive voice, and it puts an arm around you and requests, like a friend, to do the needful. There again, some of you might say �well, if we screw up, then because we used �we� we may get into a soup.� Let me reassure you here: 1) you don�t write for a contingency called screw-up. 2) You write to ensure your user increases her productivity. And 3) Whether you write in passive voice or active voice, if it is in the manual, you are liable. Finally, being formal is overrated. Just because you are in business does not meant you have to be business-like in your manual. That is a sad misconception. You got to connect. You have to converse with your user. You need to engage and offer a positive emotional experience to your user. Else, the user will pick that phone and call Support. Now, that, in my book, completely obviates the need for publishing a manual. And, having a writer on board.

Recommended Books on Usability
write to me: sumank [at] gmail [dot] com

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

 

Idea Cellular Web Site


Ideacellular.com What's with yellow boys. Don't you know?
Yellow, pure bright lemon yellow is the most fatiguing color. Why? The answer comes from the physics of light and optics. More light is reflected by bright colors, resulting in excessive stimulation of the eyes. Therefore, yellow is an eye irritant. Babies cry more in yellow rooms, husbands and wives fight more in yellow kitchens, and opera singers throw more tantrums in yellow dressing rooms. [read more @ colormatters.com]
Recommended Books on Usability
write to me: sumank [at] gmail [dot] com

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