Usability Tests on Mobile Phones

Here’s the executive summary of usability test findings conducted on 3 next-generation smartphones: the Nokia N95, the HTC touch, and the Apple iPhone.

Users with no smartphone experience conducted a series of 8 tasks on each device in order to determine how the devices fared in terms of overall usability. The study also assessed user perceptions of the devices in terms of ease of use, quality, pleasure-to-use, complexity of function-set, appropriateness for business use, and personal purchase preference.

Main Findings:
• Participants completed more tasks successfully using the iPhone than they did using either the HTC Touch or the Nokia N95.
• Participants successfully completed tasks twice as fast (on average) on the iPhone as they did on the HTC Touch or Nokia N95.
• Participants were more interested in purchasing the iPhone for themselves, although the HTC Touch and iPhone were both selected as being appropriate for business users. Users perceived the iPhone to be more complex than the Nokia N95 in terms of the number of features and functions offered.
• In addition to user testing, our cognitive psychologists conducted a heuristic review based on a qualitative scoring of each device along five dimensions (global navigation, usability/information architecture, ergonomics, look-and-feel, and breadth of functionality). The iPhone scored higher on the expert review than both the HTC Touch and Nokia N95.


iPhone did seem to live up to its hype.

Feature comparison Apple iPhone vs Nokia N95

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Using ethnography to design for BOP

Interesting read, on how Nokia used ethnography to design for BOP among other stuff like using ethnographers as user emissaries instead of brand emissaries.

“”This sort of on-the-ground intelligence-gathering is central to what’s known as human-centered design, a business-world niche that has become especially important to ultracompetitive high-tech companies trying to figure out how to write software, design laptops or build cellphones that people find useful and unintimidating and will thus spend money on.

Several companies, including Intel, Motorola and Microsoft, employ trained anthropologists to study potential customers, while Nokia’s researchers, including Chipchase, more often have degrees in design.

Rather than sending someone like Chipchase to Vietnam or India as an emissary for the company — loaded with products and pitch lines, as a marketer might be — the idea is to reverse it, to have Chipchase, a patently good listener, act as an emissary for people like the barber or the shoe-shop owner’s wife, enlightening the company through written reports and PowerPoint presentations on how they live and what they’re likely to need from a cellphone, allowing that to inform its design.

Duplicate charge alert

Often, credit card charges are duplicated erroneously by merchants . While some banking websites like Citibank, Amex lets you dispute these duplicate charges online, i was thinking more on the lines of a new feature that would alert the merchant and the credit card holder, through e-mail and/or SMS, whenever a same value gets doubly charged by the same merchant on the same date for the same credit card.

Eye Wink Interfaces

Thanks to “eye wink” interfaces, users can bat their eyelids to play their favorite song or even play video games. Users need not use their hands to perform tasks , the system can serve as “a third hand” for caregivers, rock-climbers, car/motorbike drivers and astronauts, as well as people with disabilities.

When a user winks, movement in their skin is detected by sensors clipped to their glasses or headphones, said Kazuhiro Taniguchi of Osaka University’s Graduate School of Engineering Science, who developed the “KomeKami Switch” or “Temple Switch”.

The Kome Kami Switch, comprises a single-chip computer and a couple of infrared sensors that monitor the temple movements; and is small enough to be built into the side of a pair of eyeglasses. It is capable of operating television sets, air conditioners, room lighting and other household electronics. More >

Car stuff

Parking : The other day, a friend of mine and me took about 25 mins to commute from Point A to Point B , we used his GPS gadget to find the location, the shortest route et all. We also spent additional 15 minutes looking for an empty parking lot.

One of the key features that I’d like to see next gen GPS devices and map tools, would be to search and show ( in real time) available parking lots on need basis. Not sure what kinda logistics would have to go into play to enable this feature. This feature may not be a ‘must have’ requirement in cities such as Bangalore 🙂

Rear View Cam : Given that web /digital cam prices are heading south, it will be useful and may not be expensive to install a camera near the boot (in indian cars) and display the camera view on a dashboard monitor, while backing up the car.

The other key requirement is the Digital Fuel Level Indicator

Undo Sent Mail

Heuristic : Ease of Error Recovery

Many a times, after sending an e-mail, Users realize that they’ve done a terrible mistake and would want to “UNDO” the same.

Ease of Error Recovery

Thanks to the dynamic client sided validation, one need to type the entire e-mail addresses of recipients and instead choose from a suggested list. This feature also gives room for users to choose an incorrect mail id.

I usually forward certain confidential information from my gmail account to my official mail id. Now, there’s this other Muthu, who has a similar profile as me. Even our initials are the same. I could easily end up sending confidential information to him.

Microsoft Outlook has this “revoke” your sent e-mail feature. But it has its own limitations.

We definitely need an Undo Sent Mail feature. How do we spec it and what changes do we have make in the Messaging Architecture to enable this?

Airtel's IVRS Bill Payment Experience

For the first time, I tried Airtel’s “PHONE PAY” service to pay my Broadband bills. The IVRS user experience wasnt bad at all.

If you dont have access to an internet connection and if you dont wanna drop the check at airtel Payment Points and if you havent yet enabled ECS with SI, then this service is really comfortable and convenient. You are just a FREE phone call away to paying your Broadband bills. All you need is your credit cart and your landline number!

The Interactive VoiceResponse System (IVRS) was user friendly. (Well, atleast to me. Wonder, who designed the IVRS for Airtel)
It took me 6 loong minutes to call 1-800-102 2455, voice out “English” as my language, enter my phone number, verify the bill amount and then key in my credit card number. If you call from an Airtel landline or mobile phone no, then your calls are absolutely FREE. ( yea right)

While ECS ‘Standing Instruction’ is my most preferred payment method, I am surprised as to why online payment feature at www.Airtel.in is missing. STAND CORRECTED HERE. It is possible to pay bills online at http://www.airtel.in. However, the Airtel bill envelope highlights http://www.billdesk.com and http://www.billjunction.com for payment.

If you wanna make an online payment, then you gotta register and log-on to www.billdesk.com or www.billjunction.com. Now, i dont have that kinda time to go and make yet another registration. I’d be much happy to make online payments through my CitiBank Suvidha Account. ( However sad their UI and their online keypad looks)

Dropping Checks at Airtel’s Payment Points suck big time. One has to commute. ( that too in Bangalore). Off course, one can also call 1256 for payment pick up. But this is a complex solution.

The only concern that i have ( and will always have) is about the security. What if someone bums my creditcard info. I know for sure that i am talking to IVRS system and not to a human. So, do i trust a computers/machines better than humans?. I dont know. While i hyper-actively shop online using my Credit Card ( yes, all this happenned after my marriage! Prior to that i used Debit cards).

Usability & Interaction Design jobs at Oracle Bangalore

Oracle Application User Experience group in Bangalore is hiring…

  1. Senior Interaction Designers : 3-5 years interaction design experience + Bachelor’s or Masters in Interaction Design, Industrial Design, Product Design, Visual Design, Human-Computer Interaction
  2. Usability Engineers : 1-3 years usability experience + Masters or Ph.D. in Human Factors, Industrial Engineering, Computer Science, Design, Ethnography or Psychology with specialization in HCI, statistical methods and experimental design.

Detailed job description, specific job responsibilities, eligibility criteria are given below.
Interested candidates can mail their resumes and portfolios to: Amit.Pande@Oracle.com

 

1 : Senior Interaction Designer, Oracle Apps User Experience, Bangalore

The Senior Interaction Designer will be responsible for all aspects of product design. This position will take a design leadership role in making Oracle’s enterprise application products the best possible for the Oracle end user community, in coordination with other Usability, Product Strategy, and Development stakeholders.
Successful candidates will implement the User Centered Design process across the product development lifecycle, while instilling it in Development and Strategy processes, to deliver world class enterprise product releases. This position is based out of Oracle’s Whitefield facility in Bangalore, India and involves close collaboration with Oracle’s worldwide User Experience teams.

Specific job responsibilities

Drive the interaction design strategy and design delivery for key Oracle application products
Plan, prioritize, coordinate, and conduct all necessary UCD activities throughout the product’s lifecycle including needs analysis, task analysis, conceptual modeling, cognitive walkthroughs, heuristic evaluations and other interaction design activities
Work closely with product managers to identify and clarify customer requirements developing rich and realistic user scenarios to support product definition and design
Design and specify the user interaction with the product using cooperative and iterative design techniques, including a reliance on usability engineering activities
Produce, communicate and iterate on storyboards, scenarios, wireframes, HTML prototypes, and user interface design specifications with development teams
Present and promote the results of user research, user interface designs, and usability evaluations to product management and development in a way that advances the user-centered design process in the company
Work within a multidisciplinary development team, championing customer interests, and contributing product interface designs during product definition, design, and development
Drive a consistent design direction, as well as resolving trade-offs between your design and implementation issues. Work closely with usability engineers to define front-end research and identify on-going usability efforts throughout the product development cycle. Additionally work closely with visual designers to achieve a world class product appearance.
Mentor junior staff members and design interns
 

Eligibility

Must have portfolio available for review
Three to five years of industry experience in interaction design for products that will be shipped. Design experience across the project lifecycle for several key products.
Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Interaction Design, Industrial Design, Product Design, Visual Design, Human-Computer Interaction, or a related discipline
Strong conceptual and analytical skills and demonstrated ability to prototype and design elegant UI solutions to user problems
Proven track record in applying user-centered design processes and methods to product development
Strong communication skills in working in a multi-disciplinary, collaborative environment
Strong written communication skills, proven ability to a consultative capacity, build rapport and forge strong working relationships
Extensive experience with both web and desktop technologies
Expertise in DHTML, XML, Director, Flash or interactive prototyping tools a plus
Experience in the interaction design of enterprise business applications (financials, human resources management, supply chain and/or customer relationship management) a plus
Experience in different software development methodologies and system architectures a plus

 

 

2 : Usability Engineer, Oracle Applications User Experience

The Usability Engineer will be responsible for all aspects of product usability. This position will take a leadership role in making Oracle’s enterprise application products the best possible, in coordination with other Interaction Design, Product Strategy, and Development stake-holders. Successful candidates will implement the User Centered Design process across the product development lifecycle, while instilling it in the Development and Strategy worlds, to deliver world class enterprise product releases. This position is based out of Oracle’s Whitefield facility in Bangalore and involves close collaboration with Oracle’s worldwide User Experience teams in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, and India.

Specific job responsibilities

Work closely with stake-holders to outline overall usability research and test plans and coordinate usability efforts with the rest of the UE team. Identify and apply appropriate usability methods at different stages for different types of enterprise products
Conduct high level task and work-flow analyses, usability evaluations, prototype reviews, comparative product analyzes, cognitive walkthroughs, and overall user research
Prepare research materials for data collection, site visits, interviews, surveys, focus groups, and other contextual inquiry techniques
Contribute towards user requirements gathering for new product releases through scenarios and storyboards, user profiles and personas, use cases and other methods
Develop test plans and materials for formative (early stage) and summative (pre-release) usability testing. Recruit and coordinate with test participants, setup usability lab, and plan testing logistics for one or more application product domains. Conduct lab based and remote usability tests, analyze test data and deliver recommendations
Work with other usability engineers to log usability issues and usability metrics, conduct audio/video recordings and report on test findings
Work with practice manager and UE staff members on usability methods and processes, interface with lab administrative staff to run and maintain usability labs, maintain project reports and plan for key usability projects
Contribute to Oracle’s knowledge base of tools, methods, and best practices through new research on Usability, HCI and Design

Eligibility

1-3 years of usability and user experience activities in the enterprise software/web development industry. Successful application of usability engineering as part of key product launches
Masters or Ph.D. in Human Factors, Industrial Engineering, Computer Science, Design, Ethnography or Psychology with specialization in HCI, statistical methods and experimental design. Experienced candidates with equivalent experience and a Bachelors degrees should also apply
Experience in maintaining and using usability lab setups for data collection with test participants. Skilled in designing and implementing reliable and repeatable experiments
Experience in applying the User Centered Design process for end to end product development cycles
Familiarity with current usability and HCI research and methods, especially for web and enterprise software products. Familiarity with industry standards such as ISO, CIF, and Section 508 guidelines is a plus
Foundational coursework or relevant experience in different fieldwork methods, including ethnography, usability studies, focus groups, telephonic interviews, user surveys and related approaches, and in statistics and fundamental research techniques
Familiarity with basic prototyping tools is a plus

All candidates must have

Strong conceptual, creative, and analytical abilities
Ability to collaborate and drive design with multiple stakeholders in product teams
Hands on experience with web and desktop technologies
Passion for bringing the users’ perspective into the design of new technology products
Ability to effectively document, articulate and communicate usability value
Excellent oral, written communication and interpersonal skills
Proven ability to work with others in a consultative capacity, quickly build rapport and forge strong working relationships
Hands on experience with User Centered Design methods and practices
Good understanding of contemporary research literature in the usability field
Functional knowledge of enterprise software products, including CRM, Manufacturing, Financials or related areas is a plus
Applied knowledge of different development tools and system architectures is a plus

Application Process

Send your resumes and portfolios to: Amit.Pande@Oracle.com

Amit S. Pande
Manager | EnterpriseOne User Experience
Oracle India | Whitefield, Bangalore
Phone: +91-80-41835703

 

About Oracle Applications User Experience

The Applications User Experience group at Oracle is a centralized team that provides comprehensive interface design, usability engineering, and user interface research for Oracle’s enterprise applications. Team members have experience in a wide variety of disciplines, including cognitive psychology, graphic design, interaction design, usability engineering, and computer science with a specialization in Human Computer Interaction (HCI). The group is spread across Redwood Shores and Pleasanton in California, Denver, Boston, Canada, Australia, the UK, and Bangalore and Hyderabad in India.

The group follows a user-centered design methodology that includes activities such as user research, heuristic evaluations, prototyping, competitive evaluations of products, and formal usability testing. In addition, we manage extensive laboratories for usability evaluations and research projects in areas such as information visualization, mobile computing, universal access, and distance learning. Advanced projects are also carried out in collaboration with university partner labs. These labs are located across US and international locations and are equipped with high end equipment to cater the needs of local and remote usability testing, collaborative design and user research. 

Visit http://ui.us.oracle.com to more about the global Oracle Applications User Experience Group

 

About Oracle User Experience, Bangalore

Oracle has a User Experience practice in Bangalore that works closely with the Denver team, performing UCD activities to support the Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne product line and other Oracle application products.
More information on the Oracle EnterpriseOne mid-market product line.