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May 21, 2010 / fayafshar

Gmails attachment reminder

Something i just noticed in Gmail is the nifty reminder to attach your file before sending the email.

I don’t think there is anyone out there who has not had the following happen:

You are about to send out an important file (perhaps to your boss or client) and you spend a good while tidying up the body of the email, explaining what the attachment is. Then your press SEND

Then suddenly you realise you forgot to attach the damn file, or even worse you get a reply from the recipient asking for the attachment to be sent! Doh!!!

Well Gmail now scans the body of your email for words such as “attached” and reminds you that you have not attached anything even though you have mentioned it in your email!

How cool is that????

It seems so straight forward and obvious when you think about it.

I just can’t believe it took this long for someone to think of it!

Gmails Attachment Warning

The only thing i dont understand is why other words such as “attachment” are not flagged?? It doesn’t throw this error when “attachment” is in the body of the email.

Any ideas anyone????

May 3, 2010 / fayafshar

Jetstars not so user friendly error

Recently i booked a holiday to Cairns, flying with JetStar and i have to say most of the booking process was simple and straight forward. JetStar email you after you have paid for your flight, telling you that online checkins will open 2 days before your departure date (24th of April), and that you should checkin online avoid having to do this at the airport.

They even went as far as checking me in (22nd April), 2 days before my flight (without me initiating it myself), which i thought was a pleasant surprise.  🙂

What was strange however was that the day before my flight (on the 23rd) i received a another email from jetsstar telling me to check-in online. But how can this be, when they checked me in the day before?

Regardless i clicked on the link they provided, and was taken to the following page:

JetStar online checkin page

So then i thought to myself, “Why did the email ask me to checkin, when this says ive been checked in already? O perhaps JetStar want me to checkin for my return flight on the 26th?”

So then i checked that box and my name (altered on the screenshot), and was taken to the following page:

JetStar error, not so friendly!

Finally i saw the above error, which as a end user makes no sense to me what so ever. What is worse is the fact that at this point, the user cannot move forward anyway more. Pressing Continue does nothing. The error makes no sense, and you are left wondering what you did wrong to cause this.

Unfortunately users always blame themselves for errors, even when the system is at fault. This was experienced with Safari version 4.0.5, which is currently the latest browser. Perhaps not enough testing on Safari was conducted, or perhaps JetStar never thought of the scenario where the customer is told to checkin online, then jetstar checkin on behalf of the customer, then the customer is asked to checkin online again, which takes them  to a page that tells them they have already checked in, which then misleads them into thinking they need to checkin for their return flight, and then finally results in a nasty red error at which point they give up?

Solution

Im not entirly sure why this error has occurred, it is probably due to a combination of things. But here are a few pointers for JetStar:

  • If you want customers to checkin online within 2 days of their flight, do not check them in and confuse them further.
  • If you have checked in customers (after telling them to do it themselves) without their consent, do not send them another email asking them to check online.
  • If online checkins only open 2 days before flights, then design the form so that the returning flight (26th of April) is not visible and hence cannot be checked into outside the 2 day window. In this case it was visible on the 23rd of April.
  • Design your errors with then end customer in mind, so that in rare cases where a customer is exposed to them (and i mean RARE because this should really never happen), they are not frustrated or confused. Give them some direction, to perhaps refresh the page, or call your 1300 number, or something….

Well thats my 2 cents, what are your thoughts?????????

April 4, 2010 / fayafshar

Cool paper prototyping

We all know how hard it is to prototype with pieces of paper, all it takes is for one bump and all your bits of paper go flying around the room! God forbid a fan is turned on, and your doomed.

Well in this short clip, chrisneale has cleverly prototyped an the user experience of an application for developers to get a better understanding of how the app should behave.

They say a picture says a thousand words, so then a clever animation could potentially save you from having to document hundreds of thousands of words (or specs in our case).

Vodpod videos no longer available.

May 29, 2009 / fayafshar

Google Wave

google_wave_logo

I just read some exciting news about Google Wave.

Wave is not released yet so I can’t talk about it from my own experience but I will refer to you www.technocrunch.com for a interesting prerelease review of it.

For those who don’t yet know, I love Google products, especially their smooth interfaces and great user experience.

I can’t wait until its released!

google_wave_snapshots_inbox-630x411

May 13, 2009 / fayafshar

Visual Symphony

I just wanted to share this website which my collegue just sent me.

You can click on to each item and read a snipet of the article for example, and click through to the full article if need be.

Spectra - Visual Symphony

 

It’s certainly attractive to look at but it still needs some refinement.

I’ve seen variations of this, one interesting one (which i have to dig up the URL for) is a photo search engine, which searches the interenet for a word you enter and creates a globe of images that match your search. If you have a unique name, searching for your name will result in some interesting outcomes!

January 15, 2009 / fayafshar

Minority Report UI no longer a fantasy!

If you thought the User Interface (UI) used by Tom Cruise in Minority Report was fantastic, then you will be happy to hear it is finally a reality!

Imagine throwing out the mouse and using both arms to control the interface in front of you!

Although i have to say it must be tiring for your arms, its a exciting prospect!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

What are your thoughts about the practicality of such an interface? It has potential in gaming that’s for sure!

January 15, 2009 / fayafshar

The best job in the world!

I know this is totally unrelated to IA or Usability, but i feel the need to let you know about this fantastic opportunity:   www.islandreefjob.com

If you haven’t already heard, it is a chance to work in the Great Barrier Reef for 6 months, and doing everything you’ve always dreamt of; feeding the fish, snorkeling and sight seeing and then reporting back using social media and web 2.0 tools, such as blogs etc.

The overwelming response they have received from applicants from around the world has crashed their website serveral times!

Well who wouldn’t dream of such a job? Talk about doing what you love and loving what you do! 🙂

You can read more about it here!

November 25, 2008 / fayafshar

Google has done it again with Gmail themes

I just wanted to mention how impressed i am with the new Themes introduced by Gmail earlier this week!

I was initially impressed by Googles approach to email, when they first released Gmail years ago (i forget how long ago it was now, but i was sitting in a lab at my university when a friend sent me an invite. At that stage it was by invitation only).

And i am still surprised to see people use Hotmail or Yahoo. I always wonder to myself “Don’t these people see how much easier it is to use Gmail?”. I myself could no longer be bothered to delete hundreds of spam daily from my Hotmail account, which effectively had no spam control (although they claimed they did). 

I later found out that Hotmail had introduced a new field I’m my settings called something like “Share my email address with other companies” which they had conveniently TICKED on my behalf!!!

So i figured i had nothing to lose by trying Gmail. And i was pleasantly surprised when my inbox was no longer flooding with unwanted mail.

Plus the masive storage space they provided ( i think 2 gig initially compare to the other webmails who offered 200mb) meant i no longer had to delete any emails! Plus i could search all my mail, which gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling (lame i know but it makes the user feel secure)!

I also loved their approach to handling multiple emails between 2 people, by listing them under one conversation! Makes scanning your inbox so much simpler.

Then comes the Themes!

That was then and this is now, and im really enjoying my gmail themes!

gmail-theme1

As you can see i currently have the Candy theme set just for fun, but if thats too much for you, then you can also select from one of the or toned down designs.

While i was on Twitter however, i heard afew people complain that they did not like the new themes, so i guess im interested in hearing why/why not?

Are you one of those people that do not like the themes?

Im interested in hearing your comments!

November 4, 2008 / fayafshar

Badly Designed UAC Form

On the weekend, a friend asked me to help her change some course details, before she submits a postgraduate application to UAC (Universities Admission Centre NSW & ACT). She figured, being a software engineer and all, i should be able to help her send this form. At first i must admit i thought it would be a simple task, and that she ‘the user’ was making a mistake. I later realised it was poorly designed form.

For some reason the UAC postgraduate application process does not have a ‘back’ button to allow applicants to make changes to their application half way through the process. Change your mind about which course you want to study? Tough luck! You’ll have to start the process all over again.  

 

At the top of the form, it first asks you to enter all information in UPPER CASE. It then clearly states that * indicates compulsory fields to be completed”

In the address box, only the street number and name, and suburb have a red * next to them.

Naturally the user assumes the fields ticked with a star * are compulsory.

UAC address form

But no, the State, Postcode, and Country are also to be filled in. But you only realise this after hitting the ‘Next’ button.

A small window opens to tell you to select a Country for correspondence.

 

So this makes me wonder, what is the point of including * indicates compulsory fields to be completed”, when clearly non * fields are also compulsory?

So naturally I then selected Australia from the country drop down box. Then another error is thrown (see image below).

UAC error

 

From reading that error, you may think that I had entered a non Australian State or Postcode. But in fact both those fields were empty. So now UAC is assuming that my address is not Australian, simply because I selected Australia for the country!

In case you are curious, entering the State and pressing “Next” also throws another error asking for Postcode!

Finally i was taken to the next page (after filling in the postcode) and asked for my credit card details. Yet i realised there is not option for going back, if for some reason i felt i had to change my postal address for example. Although a window does open asking you to confirm your address detials by clicking ‘OK’, the designers of this form have forgotten the fact that a Cancel is also needed. What if those details are incorrect and the user needs to change them?

All in all, this is a very poorly designed form, for a organisation that depends heavily on applications online and off. 

If i were to take a wild guess, i’d say the uptake of UAC online applications has been poor, and their call centres have had to answer for it. Most users having had to go through that form, would end up calling UAC to complain, as did my friend. 

I would like to hear of any other nasty forms you’ve come across lately! 🙂

November 3, 2008 / fayafshar

Hello blogger world!

Hi there!

This is my information architecture blog, where i plan to post about any good or bad sites or interfaces i come across. And i would love to hear your comments!

cheers

fay afshar