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Posts Tagged ‘user interface’

If you want business cards from Staples it might be slightly inconvenient. Their online workshop only supports the Internet Explorer browser. This is despite the fact that most users have Firefox, and it completely eliminates Mac users.

I can still shop there because I have a Windows computer with IE, but that’s not the point. Companies that have the dough to develop online services across browsers shouldn’t support the least popular browser. It’s ridiculous.

The investment in the technology is already worth the amount of new potential users.

To be fair, I can see how they rationalized this decision. Most adults – the people that would design professional cards and stationary – are not part of the demographic that uses Firefox, Safari, Opera, or Chrome. They probably still use the archaic IE. But the new generation of business professionals is already tech-savvy enough to use Firefox.

Staples, you’ve been warned.

//UPDATE

For those of you who still think that I.E. is a superior browser to Firefox. Here’s an article from CNET comparing I.E. 7 to Firefox 3. Mozilla’s browser wins every single test from cool features, speed, and even security.

Firefox also integrates third party add-ons, which can be useful for your particular field. Like most web developers, I use Firebug to test PHP code.

As more browsers start to use PHP/Flash/JavaScript speed becomes more important. Firefox leaves I.E. in the dust when processing those codes. Even with high speed internet, the browser can take a while to process more complicated actions.

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^It’s common to see reviews that slam an app. If we’ve learned anything from social marketing, the review is vital to your story. You develop the about page to make the best sale, but users will look at the reviews to learn the truth. Here are 5 reason why you might get a sucky review:

///Less is More///

The newest apps have accounted for this. In the early days, some apps had complicated pages to do simple things. The app Romantic Gifts frustrated me the first time I used it. It’s supposed to be a fun application to send gifts to friends, but they created a point-based rewards system. I couldn’t send some gifts unless I had accomplished certain goals. Did I go through the trouble? Nope. I just used the app Free Gifts, where I could…well…send gifts. I click a gift, type a name, type a message, and click send.

I’m sure the Romantic Gifts people wanted to create a fun way of sending gifts, but they overlooked the fact that the act of sending a goofy or meaningful gift is already the fun part. So, they instead added a complication. I couldn’t send a “box of chocolates” gift until I had earned points…

Now some people will like apps like Romantic Gifts. The best point comes from an earlier post of mine where I recommended some Facebook apps to make life easier. I said the Professional Profile app was great because it would upload your resume from LinkedIn, help you build connections, find you recommendations from coworkers. Great, but sounds a little complicated… Here’s proof that the complications hurt the app:

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^ The application on the left is Professional Profile, which we can see gets 2,191 active users at this time. It also got some tepid reviews. Now, the app on the left is doing much better. Why? Well, it’s simple. Literally. On the left we have the My LinkedIn Profile app. The beauty of the second app is that the user enters their LinkedIn profile url, selects a badge linked to that profile, and slaps it onto their profile. Then other LinkedIn users will see it, click on it, and they still get your resume, recommendations…all the lovely things I thought Professional Profile had…

Let’s go back to Romantic Gifts, which has nearly 8,000 users. It sounds like a great number until you see the number of users for the app Free Gifts:

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///Kinky///

The picture from the beginning of the post has bad reviews for an app that doesn’t work. It might work for some users, but they won’t save you from a bad review. Facebook users have had several experiences with bad apps from the early days. Now, an app with kinks is intolerable because it clutters our precious profile space (even on the new profile design).

I avoid apps with two things: several discussion topics on why the app doesn’t work and bad reviews about the app not working. It makes sense, right? But apps don’t work like normal experiences. The first impression can kill your chances with a user.

It’s an easy problem to avoid. Stay in developer mode longer. Then build slowly from there. If you launch it too soon and the users discover the kink in your code, you might suffer some harsh reviews.

Of course more users equal more complications beyond your code. Use your sense of customer service: apologize, say you’re working on it, and then fix it ASAP. Box.net’s Files, a great app, ran into a problem and they made sure to address it. Check out their about page in the pic below. You’ll notice that they post a notice and make a comment on their wall. You’ll also notice that despite some bad reviews, the app still 6,000+ users. It might not work for everyone, but Box.net has addressed the problem in a fight to keep users.

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Update: I want to point to Sean’s comment as the best example of showing the vigor to resolve a problem. He took extra time from his work day to repeat that people are working hard to get this fixed.

His comment also makes me want to talk about a separate issue. On the other side, as a user, I believe you shouldn’t give bad reviews to apps with kinks. Developers work hard to make sure you have a great app that makes your life easier. It’s why, in an earlier post, I put the Files app as one to watch. Once it’s fixed, it will be a great replacement for your thumbnail drive. There are real people behind these innovations, and reviews should be for posting your reaction to the app to share with others. If there’s an error, message the creator to find out the progress of resolving the issue. They’ll be happy to update you, and it opens a better discourse.

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Yesterday I ate at the delicious Sushi Yaa in Arlington, TX, but it’s not the food that got my attention. It was their website. Sushi Yaa has a great design and an awesome user interface. You can compete in a photo contest, earn loyalty points to compete for prizes,  and even rate menu items like their special rolls and such.

This is just a local hole in the wall restaurant, and yet it’s one of the best user interface I’ve seen for a local restuarant. This is why I’m naming it a local hero. Register at their site to receive discounts and start interacting with Sushi Yaa.

Below two thumbnails of pics from the site. Go on, you know you want to click them.

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^ Menu of their User Interface

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^ Top 7 Loyalty Points Earners

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boingboing.net /// There’s no surprise that this is on my reader. It’s one of the most popular blogs on the planet, feeding random content about all that is wonderful about this world.

sethgodin.typepad.com/// I read Why All Marketers Are Liars, and after that I went out and read every book from the Godin series. Seth has a knack for theorizing paradigm shifts in the marketing industry. He takes a look at the real business world to give a little guidance to us.

macalicious.com/// I need to stay updated on everything Mac!

theproducersperspective.com/// Ken Davenport is the most tech-savvy producer on and off Broadway right now. So, I like to stay updated with his great innovations and projects. I’m also a member of his new social network site Broadway Space.

Of course, I’m also subscribed to Ignite’s blog to see updates from our collaborators from across the country. I’ll put a blogroll [what’s that?] up later!

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So much of the entertainment industry is only promotions, promotions, and promotions. The new production of American Buffalo with Cedric the Entertainer and John Leguizamo has been using social networks like MySpace and Facebook to promote the show. [Check out the MySpace for American Buffalo.] I think they still missed the point of user interface promotions. The fans on these social networks can only show their support for the product through comments and friending. This isn’t a true user interface.

Kevin Davenport created BroadwaySpace to unite people over their musical theatre passion. He’s smart in that he can promote ticket discounts and utilize the network to spread press about new shows. But here we get a true user interface.  You see, user interface needs to motivate interaction (duh, right?). Davenport’s social network allows people to share their production videos, discuss new shows, and build connections with others. Lovely.

The American Buffalo page is just there to sell tickets. It’s fine to promote via social networks (and quite brilliant), but you can’t stop short. You must interact with people. For instance, give the MySpace people access to a special part of your website where they can talk about the show. Allow the Facebook people to add a David Mamet game application to their profiles (and let it display scores so they can challenge friends to beat them.) At the very least, the cast members should be vlogging.

Sure, people might beat boredom by watching your YouTube commercial or listening to Radio Ads (both are on the AB MySpace page…), but they only gain something when you interact with them. Never underestimate the power of user interface.

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