While I was freelancing, I would get lets of work proposals for UI interface designing and UI development. Frankly I took them only if they paid really well or if I needed work badly. When people asked me what exactly do you do as a UX designer, most of what I say even now is mostly abstract and filled with subjective words such as experience, perception, flow, and so on. I have now realized that it is far better to give them real examples, problems which they most probably would have faced in their lives. And then say that I solve these problems, or even better, I try to avoid such problems in the first place. This is the first of such blog posts which will give examples from the real world of user experience problems. I have already a bunch of posts dedicated to a specific design problems, but these posts would see the problems at a much higher level.
So the first example comes out of my experience in getting an internet connection in Hyderabad. I have an apartment which is though at the heart of Gachi Bowli, the IT area, still it is in the middle of nowhere regarding internet connectivity. There are no service providers who have their wiring in this area, which leaves only the ones based on Wi-max technology. Reliance and Tata Indicom. I chose tata indicom for two reasons: Having had a bad experience with Reliance earlier. And there was already a tata indicom connection in my building. The initial part was straightforward, I took the phone number from my neighbour and called up. The executive came and collected the documents etc in a day. And then I got a few emails, which were all, of the sort, “everything is going fine!”.
The executive had told me it would take 3 days for any action. Today being the fourth day I re-looked at the emails. I remembered seeing an enquiry number which I could see status of on the indicom site.
It has this line:
Your enquiry no is 177963. To check the status of the enquiry please log on to our website www.tataindicombroadband.in/wireless
Now let us analyse the problems with this statement. The first part tells me my specific enquiry number. This is absolutely fine. Also note that this number is a six digit number, so it has 1/100000 chance of someone else guessing this number and checking it. The second part informs me that I can check the status, but on one condition – “I have to log on” . Since I do not have a login yet, I am stumped. What should I do now? I look at the other emails to see if there is a username or password somewhere. I find there is none. But let us assume there is a way that I can still log on. Which I might find if I search their website well enough. If there is such a page, why isn’t the third part, the permalink for that page. Why would I want to go to www.tataindicombroadband.in/wireless . This is the homepage for different plans, and this would have made sense if I was not sure which plan I wanted.
The problem can be broken down:
- I do not know a way to login to see the status of my enquiry
- The email just in three lines meanders from the issue of my enquiry status to giving me a choice between their various plans.
I am pretty sure the second part is there because of a business guy, who would have wanted to let users know of their different plans. And that is the problem with user experience. In most corporations designers are still seen as the ones who design UI. I have talked earlier about what ‘design’ actually means as an english word and how it is widely interpreted today. So a designer would never be associated with something like sending an email to prospective customers. This email would be concieved by a business analyst and written by a someone who would have been pressured to remove all the grammatical errors and to make the english more formal.
After the above lines there is this, which would finally of help to the user:
For any further queries, do write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our Customer Service Number in your city.
Do remember to quote your enquiry number for information related to your connection.
And this in fact came here because of a scene like this,
Oh, but we also have a call center. Do put the link for the phone numbers and also the email id.
Do post other such problems you might have faced.