A collection of my observations and experiences of daily life. Both, Beautiful & disappointing experiences.
And how might we design them better for an intuitive, holistic and satisfying experience.
1. Lost Wallet and the pain that continues still…
Recently I lost my wallet.
It had some ID cards, 2 debit cards and some bills. The first thing I was supposed to do was to block all my cards for security reasons.
I had 2 cards active, one from Kotak Bank which I had been using for a few years now and the other one was a recently ordered Paytm-payments-bank card.
My first goal was to block these cards.
I had to call up Kotak bank, go through the IVR, wait for them to respond, finally after connecting with them, I had to go through identity verification and finally get the card blocked. Whereas for PayTm, It was much easier. It was just a matter of reaching out to my pocket and using the Paytm app to block my card.
The app allowed me to do the same in 3 simple steps and a pass code.
There was a simple switch which helped me block my card.
The next few days were spent finding my wallet.
I found it on my table later that week, Not sure how I missed it.
Now that I got my cards back, I had to figure a way to unblock them. My primary account being in Kotak, I needed that card to be unblocked asap.
The journey of getting my card back and running was very stressing.Turns out, my card couldn’t really be unblocked.
Instead, I was supposed to go through the complete process of getting a new card altogether. There was no other option, I had to apply for a new one.
The worst part was the wait.
It took around 2–4 weeks for the card to arrive. My card arrived at my home address and I was in my college, in another city, and so it took another 2–4 weeks for me to get my hands on to the card.
The journey of blocking my paytm card was pretty straight forward, Paytm gave me a switch. The journey of unblocking the card seemed pretty obvious and simple, just reverse the switch and you’re good to go.
Well, atleast thats what I though until I realised that it was another new level of annoying experience.
The basic understanding behind a switch is that it lets you switch from one state to another and again back to the original.
So when I reached back to the paytm app to switch, the switch, which theoretically should have enabled me to get my card back to the original active state. However, it didn’t work as expected. Instead of activating my existing card, PayTm completely refreshed my virtual card to a brand new one. The card no., details, CVV, everything was changed. Essentially, now what I was left with, was a physical card(original) which didn’t match with the virtual card(the new one) on the app.
So the card in my hand was now completely, a waste, plus, I had to order a new paytm card which cost me another 120 bucks, and a delivery time of over a week.
However, Paytm wallet so far has been one of the best alternatives in times of crisis. Almost all shops and supermarkets here, have started accepting paytm, so, I was sort of saved during this period.
Even though I had to make multiple transfers from Kotak bank to Paytm bank to the paytm wallet, everything worked out well.
Special thanks to Google TEZ which made my online transfers seamless and quick. (I’ll talk about that experience later in another post.
2. CTA buttons and why they are inefficient,
If you notice the Upvote button on reddit, like button on Facebook and the heart button on Instagram, you’ll find it placed on the bottom left of every post.
I’ll get back to these buttons but first, let’s talk some statistics and ergonomics before that.
Right handed people account for nearly 90% of the total population. It’s also seen that majority of users use their dominant hand when operating a smartphone.
That said, the best location to place these primary CTA buttons would be somewhere on the bottom right corner of every post, for users to be able to easily access them using their thumb without extending it all the way across the screen. The current placement of these buttons isn’t really where it should be.
This all makes sense assuming these buttons are the primary action that Reddit, Facebook and Instagram, wants their users to take. If, for some reason, these buttons aren’t supposed to be the primary CTA, maybe then, the placement of these buttons is justified.
Also considering that our eyes scan through in a Z-pattern, the last point of focus is the end point of Z, i.e. the bottom right corner. I believe placing the CTA on the bottom right will enable users to use it more often and indeed, easily.
That said, if you take a look at other devices with larger screens, like the Google Pixel XL, or the Samsung Note series, or maybe the tabs and iPads that are coming around, it’s all the more difficult to reach those left aligned buttons. Let me know your thoughts on this in the comments below.!
3. The incomplete e-commerce experience,
Recently when I was at my friend’s place, he received a call from an Amazon delivery guy, asking him for directions to his place.
I’m pursuing my graduation, I live in my college hostel. Ordering online here is simple, followed by a fixed delivery guy who exactly knows where to come. E-commerce stores get loads of orders from students in my campus. We simply get a call to come down till the main entrance and our orders’ there, waiting for us to take em' home. A sweet little experience.
My friend’s place is 2 lanes inside the main road behind a petrol pump beside a small temple. This was the first time I was at his place when he received an order.
When we ordered something we enter an address. That address specifically refers to the the house address. It is mentioned in a standard predefined format, including pincode, state, city, landmarks, lane no, Why is there even a need of making a call when the address is clearly mentioned in a standard format, pin-pointing the exact location.
Unfortunately this address is just used to segregate the different parcels w.r.t. areas and locality. The parcel is then handed over to the delivery guy for their respective areas. Every time a delivery arrives near the location for the delivery, they make a call to the customer. The list adds upto around 50–60 customer.
Coming back, My friend got a call.
We are students from across India, the delivery guy, is a local. He barely understands English or Hindi, all he knows is the regional language. Explaining him the location, was hell of a task.
It was extremely difficult and annoying, (after a point my friend just didn’t want to talk to him, and handed the phone, over to me.) I tried to explain him the address.
The call went in parts ,
- When he vaguely asks me where to come, as if he had no clue.
- When he reached a nearby petrol pump.
- When he reached the second lane.
- When he asked for the specific house no.
- And also, When he said he was ‘almost there’.
It was an extremely poor experience getting a home delivery.
Amazon and other e-commerce stores promise a user friendly, hassle free experience.
The good experience shouldn’t last only till you’re online. Even the online experience from exploration to checkout isn’t perfect. (I’ll get to that in another post.)
Why is there even a need of making a call when the address is clearly mentioned in a standard format, pin-pointing the exact location. We’ve got everything.
There are places where a call is necessary, places where signboards aren’t clear, streets and lanes names are not clearly put up, but for this case, the expereice should have been seamless.
Why does this happen? And what to do about it?
Although there is no one person to blame for this, but I feel Amazon(e-commerce stores) and specifically it’s employment system plays an important role in providing a holistic experience.
When employing a delivery guy, the job role should clearly state the most basic and necessary skills that are needed to apply.
- Basic wayfinding skills to be able to read and easily locate the address.
- Basic understanding of Hindi or English. (Considering it’s the most widely spoken language across India.)
There are numerous other solutions to this problem. (Till we figure out a way to effectively use the mighty drones in a country like India).
If an order has been placed online, on Amazon, they might as well capture the location on a map, which can later be easily accessed using Google maps and can be used to locate the delivery address.
This will help save hours of delivery time, will increase fuel efficiency and effectiveness of delivery.
Think of the money saved on numerous calls placed by deliver guys. (1–3 calls on an average/ customer)
And most importantly providing a better experience to the users.
What’s your e-commerce experience?
4. The rotating Perfume bottles!
The experience of using a perfume bottle isn’t always as pleasant as it’s fragrance. Let me explain.
Notice how the cap of perfume bottles are completely cylindrical. Majority of perfume bottles, even the best ones like Dior, Chanel, Elizabeth Arden etc.. fail to design their bottles well. They are no doubt, beautiful, on the outside, but when you actually use it, it’s annoying.
Have you ever struggled finding the opening on the cap? We need to rotate it all the way and waste time locating the hole.
Even the most expensive perfume bottles have an ordinary flat cylindrical top on the inside.
On the contrary, deodorant bottles usually have a grip on the top indicating where to place your finger. It’s still not the best design but atleast it is better.
5. The intuitive elastic
The aspect ratio of screens on smartphones are moving towards a 2:1 ratio from the older 4:3 ratio.
However a lot of videos on Youtube(most of them) have a 16:9(4:3) aspect ratio. A video with that ratio, when played on a smartphone with a 2:1 ratio leaves out huge black borders. It’s a really dissatisfying experience considering how beautiful your screen looks on its original ratio.
To make full use of the 2:1 ratio, YouTube and other video players let you zoom into the video to stretch them to the edge of the screen.
It was seen that when users tried to zoom into their screens, it was difficult for them to figure if the screen was at a 100% zoom. They had to zoom into the screen multiple times to check if its extended to its maximum level.
Basically, a feedback (some sort of indication), a really intuitive one was missing, which led to this confusion.
To solve this, one of the very few cleverly visualised interactions that have been designed for screens.
Its like an elastic, it gives you a feeling that something is being stretched beyond its natural limit and it needs to come back to rest. It goes just a little beyond the 100% zoom size and comes back to its natural place of rest and stays.
This instantly and very intuitively let’s the users know that the screen is at 100% stretch. Check it out on YouTube.
This elastic interaction has been applied to a lot of other apps and screens too. You’ll see it when you scroll down or up. When it reaches the end, its like a reverse-bounce/ elastic kind of effect 😆.
If I’m not wrong, Apple came up with this and since then it has been used on numerous different interfaces on various devices.
Thankyou guys for your time, share your views on the above topics.
Let me know your good and bad experiences, I’d love to share them with everyone.
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Also check out my previous post on Snapchat: The Blank Black Snap obsession…
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