September 15th, 2012
Hipmunk is a flight/hotel search engine. I found it through a design blog by Sacha Greif. Hipmunk differentiates itself from other competitors by providing a visual interface for searching flight/hotel. I liked its visual interface because it reduces cognitive overload and helps users analyzing what fits the most for their needs. For example, departure time of a flight, duration of the flight, hotel location or hotel’s proximity to a bar. List based interfaces provide this information too but it takes extra step for human brain to analyze it to see if it fits into their selection criteria.
Recently, I was looking at its iOS app and found a lot of similarities between its Web UI and Mobile UI. Though both are similar, it is difficult to read information on Mobile UI. Sometime what works on the web might not work on mobile. After looking at the app, I realize there are few areas of improvement. May be, team Hipmunk is already working on these. Here are a few thoughts:
- Most of the apps these days do have a little branding by showing a big size logo as part of the transition/loading screen. When I saw Hipmunk’s app I was expecting a welcome message with the mighty mascot.
- The app provides a way switch from flight to hotel search but switching between the flight and hotel was not smooth. It simply takes user to the initial screen. Either the menu should show right there or taking user back to initial screen is also not a bad idea.
- The current UI gives a lot of importance to the about us.
- The app does not ask whether I need one way ticket or both ways. It does it smartly when a user selects travel dates. But it was not clear whether I need to select two dates. What if I want to just travel one way and I selected the initial date by mistake. The app will simply take my correction date as return date.
- The app allows users to select the class but there is a minute difference between the color of selected class and not selected class.
- The up/down arrow icon for departure/arrival metaphor is kind of nice to indicate take-off and landing but it would be nice to use a real flight icon taking off and landing.
- The calendar displays the month in every date box. Repeating it in each box simply increasing visual clutter
- Show my calendar is really innovative feature but meeting conflicts can be effortlessly in proposed UI.
- The recent search or the flight search history is nice; I think it matches with the mental model of web UI recent search. However it can be improved visually.
- Kayak’s UI for this screen is much better than this UI serving the same purpose. Probably, Hipmunk can use some of the design patterns.
Search Results: The search result page looks simply clueless. It was really hard for me to read the information. The web UI and mobile UI look much similar but making them consistent might not be a right strategy. iOS calendar also has a vertical timeline. I tried a different approach for this design. The wireframes clearly indicate that the flight starts at 8:30 am and lands at 10:30 am and it will cost $194. Whereas on the actual UI, I can read the flight cost but it’s really difficult to read the duration of flight until I click on it. There will always be cases where flight duration is very short and it will hide most of the information but it’s safe to assume the rarity of such cases. In fact the new design can also give better comparison with your meeting schedules. Flight Detail Page: Current visual interface does not provide enough room to flight details leaving no option for users to go to next page to see more details about the schedule. Unfortunately, one has to go back and forth in order to select a desired flight. Wouldn’t it would be nice to provide a slide menu (bottom to top) when user clicks on a flight? This will allow user to be better informed about the search result. It will also help users to quickly check out other flights. To conclude, these are some of my suggestion for Hipmunk team, may be the app can be improved by using it. If you want your app to get reviewed please leave a comment and I will try my best to write a blog post next time. PS: These are my personal views and I do not have any association with Hipmunk
April 21st, 2012
I use Google Reader extensively to read all my favorite blogs and online magazines. It really helps me, as I don’t have to remember the blog names or URLs. One can follow as many as possible blogs without remembering their names and URLs. You have to subscribe it once and it’s done. I have 50+ subscriptions, which I am trying to reduce. If you have too many subscriptions, and if you don’t read it regularly, it will pileup 1000+ unread items in a week and you will procrastinate to read. To avoid this, subscribe to important blogs only and read it regularly. Still there will be occasions, when you will be busy and won’t open it for days. Like everyone, I also have a pretty busy life, and I don’t get a chance to open my reader every day. To remind myself, I have created a bookmark on Firefox navigation bar. Hopefully, I will clear all my backlog unread posts very soon. In some of the blogs I have a backlog of 20 posts or even more. Again, I can’t read and digest all 20 posts of a blog in one session. In a way, it’s very similar experience likes reading a paper book for me. It’s so easy to fold a page or place a bookmark before closing your book, which really helps you jump to the right page or a chapter. I wish Google Reader had a smart visual bookmarker (aka reader-mark) letting you know, where you left last time.
I generally sort my reader with “newer first” settings, so that I can read the latest first. Some people do older first, but if they have too many subscriptions, chances are slim that you will read a post on its published date. There will be a backlog all the time. No matter which sort order you use, Google Reader can have a visual bookmark between the posts you have read and haven’t read. The visual bookmarker can change its location as you complete reading a post and shift to another. It does not have to scream the bookmark word and it could be very subtle. Also, I feel visually there is no difference between a read post and an unread post.
April 15th, 2012
I am very excited about the upcoming startup, Airtime, founded by Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning. The home page image of Airtime website reminds me of old time manual telephone exchange, where an operator will connect you the recipient. I started thinking about the company name, Airtime, and I thought it could be something related to broadcasting, where someone would broadcast a video content and Airtime would help connecting you to a target audience, sort of video version of Twitter.
Is it about curated Video Timeline?
Airtime could be about curated video timelines as well. A traditional TV Channel decides what to broadcast during the day. In other words, it fixes a slot for a specific content based on its likability. For example, a 9:00 pm show might be more interesting than 11:00 pm show, as most people watch TV around 9.00 pm. This is so because airing a popular show at 9:00pm may turn up more viewers, resulting in increased revenue and TRP. Video stream on a TV channel is a push mechanism. You have to watch what channel wants you to watch.
Recent stats reveals that 48 hours of video is being uploaded on YouTube every minute. The stats suggest that video is very effective form of communication. YouTube is becoming successful communication platform, as it empowers anybody and everybody to broadcast. I can find five different version of a recipe by different cooks. I rely on search when I am trying to find a recipe. In other words, it’s more pull mechanism, you watch what you want to watch.
I think, Airtime will re-invent the video experience on web, where content of a channel will be decided by people in your interest graph. You will get to see best cooking shows on cooking channel. A popular show would take up prime time slot.
Is it more about scheduled broadcasts?
Last week I attended a social media webinar, a live music show and a yoga training session. Yoga training was a classroom event but rest were virtual events using video communication. With each coming day video communication is playing a bigger role among all communication forms. Almost daily, I get an email invite to attend a virtual conference, an earning call, a webinar and a town hall.
Is Airtime bringing video broadcasters and audiences under one umbrella? It can allow artists, professionals, entertainers and teachers to broadcast events and let their audience select what events they would attend. Google+ has taken a step forward in this direction already, where they show all ongoing hangouts in your circles.
It’s about discovering new people using video as a medium.
Oops! I may be wrong; I just read another article on Techcrunch about Airtime, and discovered that Airtime will help you meet new people on web using video communication. It may be an improvised version of Chatroulette, but something better where you won’t encounter people with their private parts up on the screen. I used Chatroulette once and I thought that what if they had an “I like this person” button on the screen, when I am talking to a stranger. My interests and my profile can determine my next encounter.
Everybody likes randomness when outcomes are in their favor, and they keep trying randomness until the outcomes are not in favor. Take an example of Blackjack, if you are losing, you try again with bonus, hoping that you will win next time and recover the losses. Airtime could develop a platform where people will discover new people based on their interest. There could be an angle of randomness, but I am sure it would not be as random as Chatroulette.
Why Airtime could be a success?
There are lots of reasons why people wants to meet new people except dating, as in new business connection, a potential employee/employer, to learn something, or simply to get help. What if the new person you meet matches your interests?
What people will talk about?
Marketers would like such a tool where they get a chance to promote their business, or find a VC, or find a talent for their next big Idea. If I am looking for job, I may try to find potential employers. Dating could be one of the vertical but it will not be a dating site mentioned by people behind it.
I am looking forward to Airtime launch, best of luck guys!
PS: I am not associated with Airtime and these are my personal views.
April 13th, 2012
- Align them protect them
This ad highlights food imbalance and urges people to react.
- Poverty can regress human evolution
This ad shows the future of poor society descendants. Lack of food, shelter, home and education can regress human life to animal life.
- Feed them for a safer tomorrow
This ad underscores the fact that starvation can lead to crime and hence criminals.
- It’s your chance to save them
This ad urges one to feed hungry kids by just playing a simple computer game.
- Tag them, feed them
This ad urges one to do another simple task of tagging images. Companies like Google can join hands to eradicate poverty under their ‘Google’s Tag Image’ program.
- Your few key strokes can feed a hungry kid
This image expresses how your creative talents can turn into bread for a hungry kid
January 17th, 2012
October 12th, 2011
Mashable recently published a info graphic showcasing 7 incredible innovations. Each of the innovation is highly user-centered design and probably is THE reason for disruption.
September 4th, 2011
I had a few albums on Picasa with varied privacy settings, with most of them being shared between a close group, just one being public. Recently, I joined the bandwagon of Google Plus and started seeing all my albums in Google+ photos tab with their respective sharing settings. I had never expected to make a show of my Picasa album photos, which I share between closed groups, for everyone on Google +. It definitely scared me at first, considering who can see what, and in what circles. Then I changed my settings to “Only You”, which thankfully made my albums private. This was not at all a positive user experience for me. And why only Photos? Why not my Google bookmarks?
I would have considered it a good design, if Google + had asked me, “Do you want to share your Picasa photos?”, instead of showing all my albums (including the private ones) under photos tab. Sometimes Integration features are good but one has to be really careful when it comes to the privacy of the digital content. Perhaps it has happened to other users too, as I see various family photos of my friends on their Plus profile. Google+ increased the discovery of personal photos without making users aware.
Then one day, out of sheer curiosity, I searched my name on Google and found that it indexed my plus profile link, which is fine. But when I searched my name on image search, I was shocked to see all of my PICASA album pictures. I was terribly disappointed at Google’s controlled yet uncontrolled indexing mechanism. I double checked the Picasa settings and realized that image search is showing cached images. I was happy to discover “How to remove my pictures from Google Image search?” I used Google URL removal tool to remove the links, and since then, have submitted almost 40 URLs. It was amazing to see that some of the images went away but instead new ones started appearing from same albums. I submitted few more URL removal requests, yet I still see around 10 images appearing from my PICASA albums.
I have been doing since the last month, and am sure that Google must have indexed it again but still I see some of my images appearing in Image search. Today, it surprised me even more when it started showing one of my friends’ album pictures when I searched my name. I never commented on it. I never tagged it. We both are friends on Google+. Why his photos are coming as search results when I search my name, I don’t know. It never happened to me before I started using Google Plus. I removed all my albums from plus. If it still does not stop showing my pictures, I will delete my Google Plus account, and probably my Picasa albums one day. I hoping the best but yesterday I deleted all my albums and photos from PICASA
August 13th, 2011
Just by a look at a music file on your computer, you can tell its byte count, datatype and content characteristic and that it is a file which can be played in any media player. But still you need CUT-COPY-PASTE interactions when you want to transfer the same from one device to another. Why can’t you transfer this file from one computer to another, like water from one glass to another?
Recently developed LoK-IT flash drives, by LOK-IT intrigues me. The User Interface built on the exterior of flash drive allows users to protect the data, in case one loses the Flash drive, which is not very rare; this is true innovation in Flash drive space, in the similar way we innovated from floppy drives to flash drives. I await a day when user will be able to have an idea of the information volume a flash drive contains, just by having a look at the information visualization on its surface or by simply weighing it in hand, sparing the plugging on computer.
Another true innovation, I believe, in this domain would probably be the data transfer- merely by holding two flash drives face-to-face and transmitting data from one to another. Certainly, our generation is not very far from this as we see in the incoming iPhone technologies/apps, which allows one to transfer contacts from one iphone to another.
July 28th, 2011
I would be the first to download the firefox plugg in if versionone develops it. As of now I have a bookmark on my firefox bookmark toolbar where I have bookmarked the search specific URL.
July 23rd, 2011
Versionone is one of the best SAAS based agile project management tool. I simply love this tool. So far as I’ve seen, one of best enterprise app designed nicely. I spend almost 2 hours a day collaborating with development team and product management on V1. Recently versionone changed its UI which has now got a very sleek look, but during the exercise, version one lost a few key things which have decreased its user experience. Infact, these few things were better in the old design.
· Moving the “search” from left panel to top right corner decreased its reach and usability. I wish the search could have been closer to list items, and bigger. The other better place for search bar could be on the top navigation bar itself or, just below it as shown
· Permalink was one of the great things of earlier UI. One was able to copy the item name/number from Versionone and it will copy hyperlink along with it. One was able to launch the item right from email client. Now you have to copy and search the item
· I find the earlier conversation feature easy to use than it is now. It used to have high visibility& easy updating, when it was right there on the screen in context to the object. Now you have to scroll all the way down.
· The information hierarchy in story/defect detail is not well-thought during the redesigned. Earlier it was categorized nicely using tabs. Placing everything on one view certainly increase cognitive load on users.
· Assigning an item to multiple team member was never a easy task and still its same. One has to hold CTLR key to select multiple members. The days of thick client UI and “CTRL + Select” has gone
· I think story /defect detail window should not be model. One really works on multiple windows at a time and its kind of become roadblock in window management. The other lame design fact about this model window is hiding close/pop-out controls under scroll bar
· Story detail window became model instead of new browser, I guess it was a bad decision. Model is good if you want to display minimal info for scan or want user to do small activity.
Still, I love this software and will continue to use. I strongly recommend this tool.