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
March 10th, 2009
Delivering a contextual ad as per Website User Persona plays an important role in success of the ad campaign. For example showing a MBA Training Institute ad to a 22 year old Engineering Student on country specific popular social network site may increase its lead probability.
However there are few thoughts of mine which may play a significant role in success of these campaigns.
· Creative graphic image: A graphic ad full of text and direct sales slogan does not work for me at least. I like the ads which unfold a story. The hidden element increases its usability. I tend to click more compared to ads which are full of text.
· Animation: Excess animation can draw my attention to see the details of the ad but simply its distracting me from my primary task. I am here to read content, not to see the animation of the ads. These ads should have minimum possible animation with buttons like Replay etc. If a user finds it interesting one should always be able to play.
· Curiosity: While designing such ad one must pay attention that there should be an element of curiosity in the ad itself. It increases the chances of clicking on the same
· Colors and Borders: I like ads which uses fresh colors. Like fresh green yellow, orange. The advertiser should use thick boundary around graphic ad. Thick boundary may make it more usable.
· Differentiating online ads from print ads: Generally advertiser hires ad agencies which converts their print ads into a online ad campaigns. There should be a differentiating factor in between.
· Click by Mistake: The advertiser should not leverage users mistake to land him on a product
Page. This may hamper ad campaigns usability as well as publishers website usability. This is one of the annoying factor, I face. Sometime ad campaign displays links, graphics etc which tend user to click on it in order to get more information but unfortunately it diverts on a product page.
· Choose a website which displays only one or two display ad on the page. To many ads on the website may divert the users attention which again decreases its usability
· Display of ad in middle of the content: When I am reading a interesting content, I tend to
Ignore even creative ad which is being inserted between the content. Advertiser should select Websites, which displays the ads on the side by side to content. The website which displays the ads in between the content may impact its usability.
· Landing page should only contain few sales / marketing elements. These pages should take minimum user info like its email address only. Or maybe the lending page shall display a
Informative version of the advertisement.
· Landing page should also fulfill users expectation which was built around the ad There should be a relation. The lending page should build a trust factor. The landing page should also have similar creativity which was used in making the graphic ad. Often the landing page are full of information. While making a landing page advertiser shoud keep the goals in mind.
· Leading to free Information: An Internet geek always look for free information on the internet. Leading to a PDF, Whitepaper, research paper for a technology persona might increase ad campaigns usability. The geek might further digg into.
· Give more take less: Most of the ad campaigns ask or demand user to register/ signup/enter details/buy without showing much details. The landing page should show more of contextual free information without asking users information. For example a dating site ad campaign might display a gorgeous girl picture in a display ad. This might lure one to click on the same but the landing page would ask user to register. The landing page might have display a full dummy profile of the girl. There are always methods to take users info
ps: These are my personal views
March 3rd, 2009
Southern Railway has put up a daily time table on their site (http://scrailway.gov.in). This time table is very useful for most of the IT/Tech people in Hyderabad who commute by MMTS. Unfortunately, its down most of the time like other government site.
Whenever I travel by MMTS, I go to Google.com and Type “MMTS” or “MMTS Time Table” or “Hyderabad MMTS”. This used to shows http://scrailway.gov.in/mmts/mmtstable.php coupled with links like “http://www.mmts.co.in”, “http://www.mmts.in”. Now a day only these links comes on top. The government site got disappeared
These sites (mmts.co.in, mmts.in ) might be leveraging the malfunction of authorized government site. These sites have once downloaded the timetable in excel from government site. Developed a webpage around with little SEO. Whenever one search for MMTS one land up on these sites. These sites are full of ads. The total space occupied by ads would be more than the actual content. Whenever someone clicks on search result, These sites gets a page impression or a ad click which result a few $ to them. Its one of the method, how people make money online
An information seeker gets unauthorized or may be misleading information. Government should reprimand such website who is leveraging their content even without their permission. Southern Railways should also spend some money on site load, and SEO.
August 24th, 2008
Came across this job site - called workosaur.com. It’s USP being, it has the most 7 figure salary jobs. Good but no great shakes. Another job site I thought.
But then I saw a link on the top corner which said, “Boss is Around? Look Busy”. When clicked lead to a page full of graphs and charts.
This minor thing made me look again at the site. It tells me that this is a startup where people love their work. That they understand their niche audience. So it tells me to take them seriously. Kudos for the sense of humor.
Earlier posts on sense of humor:here
July 17th, 2008
There was a time when away, busy, available, idle type of default status message was popular. The possible goal behind this was to inform buddies about one’s state e.g. “Please don’t ping me I am busy“, I am away leave off liners
Instant Messaging and status message has evolved over a period of time. The phenomena of media type and relevant ecosystem have taken IM status messages to a next level. Now it has become a media type like audio, video, news snippet. It has become a channel to communicate different type of information
Status message has become a new means of get to know about famous sayings/quotes. One gets to know interesting web links from buddies. It has become a personal marketing channel. Whether you want your buddies to read your new blog post or do electronic voting for you. Sometime it lets other know the emotional state of the one’s buddy. IM users are becoming creative with their status messages. A new status message becomes a reason for starting a conversation.
Twitter, Kwippy types of application are revolving around IM status Messages. These applications are taking this media type to a next level where a social network revolve around it. A new means to broadcast information. I use kwippy to store one liners which brings a smile to me. This could be a part of conversation. An ad tag line. A movie dialogue and so on. I will read all these one liners when I will become old
Maintaining a Microblog would have never been so easy. One just has to IM the blog post to his twitter/ Kwippy buddy. One can easily find one liners instead of a big blog post.
June 26th, 2008
kwippy pages are open now for your viewing pleasure. Check it out, if you like it add your email for an invite. And do get in touch if you have any suggestions/criticisms, etc.
i m here: http://www.kwippy.com/kaa/
June 9th, 2008
I was having a watermelon yesterday, when this thought came into mind. A seedless watermelon would be so nice. No fussing around with the seeds. No fumbling with the tongue to get the seeds out.
Then found out on the net that there is indeed such a watermelon. Surely all of you have eaten seedless grapes. I guess 99% commerical grapes are seedless. So I guess due to their user friendly nature these seedless fruits would qualify for “usable fruits”, wouldn’t they?
A little more research gave me this:
All of the above techniques for seedless propagation have one serious flaw: they lead to a decline in biodiversity. Because they involve essentially making carbon copies of one plant, if an agricultural disease which targets that plant evolves, it can spell big trouble. Many famous cultivars of seedless fruit, for example, are grown all over the world, and these stocks could be extremely vulnerable to disease or pests. The decrease in biodiversity is also bad for the species in general, as the more diverse a species is, the more likely it is to survive, as a general rule. read more here.
So I guess there’s nothing called a free lunch. On one hand these are useful to the customers. On the other hand very vulnerable to disease. Which explains the need for industrial pesticides. And how these pesticides find their way into our bodies.
Are their any other examples where usability has a really bad side effect?
May 15th, 2008
People love them not just for the torrents, but for their attitude as well. There are a vast number of other torrent trackers around, but Piratebay makes news most often. On their home page their is a link called Legal Threats on which they post the legal notices/emails they get. This one was really funny, in reply to an email from Linotype. They have composed the entire email with different pirated fonts of Linotype.
Based in Sweden they have somehow bypassed the copyright laws till now. Piratebay’s legal advisor Viborg claims. “Until the law is changed so that it is clear that the trackers are illegal, or until the Swedish Supreme Court rules that current Swedish copyright law actually outlaws trackers, we’ll continue our activities. Relentlessly,”
Whatever their legal stand maybe, I love the way they use the anarchist dissension to grow more popular.
April 1st, 2008
What is kwippy? - a micro/nanoblogging webapp + IM status logger + social network
Why another microblogging app when there are already plenty out there? - There is twitter, pownce, jaiku, and 10 other similar ones. Though all of these promote small posts, each has a different kind of social network.
On twitter you mostly meet strangers. By strangers I mean people you don’t know in the real world. It’s like barcamp, or a conference where you go partly to network. You meet fellow bloggers, marketeers, and people from your field. Yes friendships may grow among them, but mostly there are subtle motives behind the tweets. From promoting your blog, selling your product, showing your expertise, etc.
Pownce is geared more towards file sharing, sharing media (youtube, mp3s) etc. And it has an AIR instant messenger kind of software which makes it a little closer to an Instant Messeger.
In kwippy, the whole focus is on the Instant Messenger. The friends list on the instant messenger is the most intimate friends list you can find, of all social networks. It gives the people in the list immediate access to your attention. People share their joys (i got a raise), sorrows (i flunked my english papers), their favorite links, and thousand other things through their status messages. And all these people also have a list of their closest friends on their list. And like in the real world when a real friend introduces you to another person, the chances that you hit it off are greater. There’s this trust thing which is automatic.
So there - kwippy has a social network which gets real friends, friends you could meet. And it stores all your status messages, which become your emotional timeline.
We have been working on it since some time, and now it is in testing. If you would like to check it out, and give your invaluable suggestions for improvement, either go to kwippy.com, or comment here.