Archive for User Experience

Orkut improves user interface: a quick take

Google’s take over of Orkut has started to show in more ways than one.

To begin with, we started to see contextual advertising on the Orkut community pages.

Now the Google engineers are working hard to improvise the user experience. Now we can reply to scraps right from within our scrapbook.

Earlier, we had to click on someones user ID, then click on view scrapbook and then actually write and post the scrap! Pretty archaic and long winded! But now things are simpler and quicker! Kudos…
orkut-user-interface-reply.jpg

Today is Diwali, the festival of lights. This is what welcomed me on Orkut today.

orkut_india_holiday.jpg

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Friendly brands on the internet? Here’s how!

Today I noticed this friendly greeting from wordpress as soon as I logged on.

Howdy Mohak

This single word greeting “howdy”, said so much about what wordpress was, what it stood for, and the overall brand personality.

I started to think on how this is relevant. While this is a greeting and that too somewhat basic, the relevance is hightened in the context of errors and server malfunctions!

See, errors on the internet sometimes totally outrage you. Errors could range from a 404-Page not found error to a scripting error.

How about error and other messages to communicate to build a personality, a connect with the audience?

It is really very simple. Multiple web services, new age applications are doing so. The error messages, talkback messages are not only human, they are sometimes kinda cheekish and witty. They go beyond the message and get on with communicating with the user on a one on one basis. Perhaps, part of a larger user-experience strategy.

In the last couple of months I have been noticing some very “friendly error messages”. Messages which could perhaps reduce the outrage (if not bring a smile). Obviously, the leaders and the more lateral of the websites are doing so.

Such little efforts surprise the user and build on a personality almost immediately. Time will tell whether they help to gain brand preference, leadership or competitive advantage.

Some of the best friendly messages I have encountered (not limited to errors) :

  1. Orkut (server unreachable, unable to scrap): “Bad, bad server. No donut for you
    We’re sorry, but the orkut.com server has acted out in an unexpected way.
    Hopefully it will return to its usual helpful self if you give it another chance.
    We apologize for the inconvenience and our server’s lack of consideration for others.”
  2. WordPress (welcome page on the top bar): “howdy user” (with user being replaced with the logged in user’s name)
  3. WordPress (when a blog is unreachable): Confessions Of A Server
    OH MY! Life is so unfair! What did I do wrong to be born a server in this day and age? I could have been a nice simple bicycle that people happily rode around on all day. But no, I’m stuck inside this metal case serving web pages instead. I never even see the light of day and all I can hear is the rush of the air-conditioning!
    Well, no more! I’m relaxing here with a cup of tea and a biscuit until someone shows me some love and attention.It never takes them long to fix me when I kick up a fuss so check back in a few minutes and I’ll be chugging along merrily again.!Signed,
    The WordPress.com web server
    (WordPress.com – where even the machines have life!)
  4. Gmail (when you have no spam): “Hooray, no spam here!”
  5. Gmail: Who needs to delete when you have over 2000 MB of storage?!
  6. Marketing profs (when they sent out multiple emails): “Ooops we goofed up”

With people spending so much time on their PCs and on the Internet, it is time we got friendly! Not to mention, the brand personality of the website can appeal in the long run, technology is replicable!

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