Zaarly is a local marketplace that brings producers of local goods and services together with consumers of their products and services. I’ve used the product a couple of times and like what I see so far. Here’s a tiny glitch I uncovered when testing their Facebook sign-up flow.
When you click on Log in with your Facebook profile, you are taken to a Facebook login page.
Here, if you click on the cancel button, your expectation would be to go back to the Zaarly sign-up page shown above. Unfortunately, you are taken to the following error page:
It should be noted that the content on this 404 page is superb:
We promise we tried, but we called back the search party because they were getting hungry.
Recently, I purchased a ticket to a concert on Eventbrite. Here is the order confirmation page:
I was not pleased to find the following message on the order confirmation page:
By purchasing a ticket, you will also receive weekly email blasts from Ruby Skye about upcoming events, guest lists and more.
The reason why this message irked me is because it was never shown at any point prior in the purchase flow. The user was never properly warned that a purchase would result in this added consequence of having their email added to a mailing list. Sure, at the end of the day, it’s not a huge deal and I can eventually get out of it with a simple unsubscribe. But that’s a waste of the user’s time — not to mention that this technique of acquiring emails is dishonest and not customer centric.
Seems like everywhere you look these days, users are given an opportunity to share something via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Digg, StumbleUpon, and the list goes on an on. While it may be a bit overboard to offer sharing via so many different channels, offering sharing across Facebook and Twitter can be quite beneficial to a product.
One area where sharing would be a logical fit would be across content sites such as espn.com. On their mobile site, they have a video module that typically had 3 videos that can be selected to be viewed.
After clicking through, you are usually shown an ad and then the video.
When the video concludes, you are taken to a video center page that shows you what video you just watched and asks you if you want to watch any more videos.
At this point, this would be a GREAT opportunity for ESPN to offer the user the ability to share the video via Facebook or Twitter. This is no different than ESPN asking users to share articles via social channels. Except such a medium (video) may even have a more effective conversion rate of bringing new users back to the site.
Here’s a prompt from Adobe that asks me to update the Flash Player on my MacBook Pro:
In general, I’m used to an application informing me that a new version is available and I should download the update just because. What I like about this prompt is that I am reminded as to what exactly this software is used for and how it can benefit me. I’m sure such a technique has a significant positive impact on update conversion.
Recently, I noticed an interesting text message alert from Facebook. The primary purpose of the text was to inform me that I had a pending friend request. In addition, the text issued a warning that since I hadn’t responded via text to Facebook recently, then I will stop getting text alerts.
Fair enough. It’s a reasonable explanation to turn off text alerts if the user is not interacting with the feature. But what was interesting for me was just how long would Facebook be willing to keep sending such text warnings before pulling the plug.
A couple of weeks came and went with no text alerts from Facebook. Amazingly, 25 days after the text above, I received another text from Facebook! This time, the warning was that since it had been 111 days since receiving my last text, Facebook may stop sending me text alerts.
So to make a long story short, Facebook is willing to wait at least 111 days before ceasing text messages. I find this to be an extremely long time. Especially since Facebook already gave me a warning at the 86 day point. Ideally, the algorithm that determines how long to continue sending texts to the user should not only be based on how many days it has been since last interaction, but also how many warnings the user decided to ignore.
Found an tiny glitch in Gmail. When you access a draft reply of an email conversation already inside your inbox via the Drafts folder, Gmail incorrectly offers you the call to action to move the conversation to the inbox. Let’s take a look:
1. Start with an email that is part of a Gmail thread that currently resides in your Inbox. As you can see, the top level CTAs offer you to archive the thread, mark it as spam, and send it to the trash, along with some other CTAs as well.
2. Click on Reply to start a reply thread. The top level CTAs remain the same.
3. After the web app auto-saves your draft, wonder over to the left side-bar menu and click on the Drafts link. From here, find your draft reply and click and open the thread.
4. Here’s the interesting part. Instead of having the same top level CTAs as before (archive, spam, and trash), now the user is given the option to move the thread to the inbox. This is a bit strange as the thread is already in the Inbox. Ideally, Gmail should correctly differentiate between threads currently in and out of the Inbox and offer the correct top-level CTAs.
I recently received a marketing email from Etrade and my first instinct was to unsubscribe from their marketing list. As I was going through their unsubscribe flow, I noticed something that simultaneously made me laugh out loud and angered me a bit. Let’s start with the email itself:
Scrolling down to the bottom of the email, we see the all important and sought after unsubscribe section:
Interestingly enough, they don’t use the word unsubscribe — perhaps because they know that people are trained to look for this word and perhaps they don’t want me to unsubscribe. On clicking through, here is the page that made me laugh:
Here, the unsubscribe flow has selected the option to remain a subscriber by default! Now, this could be a case of the wrong radio button being selected due to a bug, but I’m inclined to believe that this is a product decision in order to reduce unsubscribes. While I understand the need to retain customers, this is a dishonest way to do so. The ideal experience would (1) have a clear “unsubscribe” link in the original email with the word “unsubscribe” and (2) make the default call to action on the landing page remain as unsubscribe while allowing the user an opportunity to opt out.
Noticed a strange bug when searching for a business page on the Facebook iPhone App. Even thought I had previously liked the business, the search results still displayed a hollowed out thumbs-up icon that indicates I have not yet liked the business. Here’s how to reproduce the bug.
1. Start with a Facebook Page you’ve already visited and liked. Search for this Page in the iPhone app:
2. Just in case you haven’t liked it yet, double check, and press down on the empty thumbs-up icon to like the page again:
3. Visit the page and confirm that you have liked the page:
4. Touch the top level menu to search again. Here you will see your previous search query correctly displayed in the liked state:
5. Then, clear out the search box:
6. Finally, search for the same page again. Now, you will see the page displayed again, but it is displayed incorrectly as if it is not in the liked state.
Noticed a recent change in the latest FB iPhone App which was presumably done for the purpose of increasing user engagement with stories in the news feed. Before the change, here is how a sample story would look like:
As shown above, the Like, Comment, and Share calls to action are displayed as simple word links. In addition, the number of likes and comments for the story are shown in a similar treatment with the same amount of prominence and with the same color.
With the most recent iOS FB app update, here is how this component looks like:
So what changed?
- The biggest change is the change of word links as the primary CTAs (call to action) to using buttons with icons as the primary CTAs. This is a very huge and radical change. One well-accepted best-practise of conversion for site/app flows is the usage of buttons instead of text links and another best-practise is the usage of icons instead of just words. Here, Facebook is adding two very important components: both the conversion of the word to a button, and the addition of the corresponding CTA icon.
- In terms of overall screen real estate, the primary CTAs are taking up more space. Also, the component that conveys the amount of likes and comments has increased in size. Instead of showing the amount of likes and comments next to their corresponding icons, they are now shown next to the words Likes and Comments.
Is this a good idea? Will this feature succeed?
On the surface level, this is certainly not one of those cases where one design is obviously better than the other. Rather, FB will just simply A/B test this feature and see which design yields a higher level of engagement. What’s interesting about this before and after is that the before had a more prominent display of how previous users had engaged with this story (i.e. the amount of likes and comments) and thus this would increase the probability of the current user wanting to get involved and like or comment. And in contrast, the new design is leaning more toward making the primary CTAs more prominent and more appealing-to-be-clicked instead of relying on the social pressure of the statistics of the story.
Earlier this week, I wrote a post on the increased usage of ads on Facebook and how they are contributing to the perception that Facebook is no longer cool. Seemingly on cue, Blake Ross, a director of product management at Facebook, has announced that he is leaving the company due to similar sentiments.
Here is an excerpt from his Goodbye note as reported by TechCrunch:
I’m leaving because a Forbes writer asked his son’s best friend Todd if Facebook was still cool and the friend said no, and plus none of HIS friends think so either, even Leila who used to love it, and this journalism made me reconsider the long-term viability of the company.
While it was quite incidental that this news broke only a couple days after my blog post, it did get me thinking again about why I thought Facebook was losing it’s cool factor and what it could possibly do to regain it.
Was it just the increased usage of ads that contributed to this shift, or was there something more? In short, I believe the answer has to do with simplicity. In the early days of Facebook, the product was very simple — and specifically, the UX was quite simple. In fact, one could reasonably argue that what propelled them to leapfrog MySpace and become the only Social Network that mattered was directly related to the cleanliness and simplicity of Facebook and how much better that was than the mess and clutter of MySpace. These days, there are rumblings that Facebook is turning into MySpace. And the funny thing about such a proclamation is that it could be made both figuratively (it is the super power but it may be replaced one day soon) or literally (It used to be a clean and simple product but it is now messy and cluttered).
So what should Facebook do next? That’s the important question. It’s certainly easy for me to sit here on the outside and critique them. But the reason I critique them is because I think that they still have the potential to be cool, and more importantly, they still have the potential to achieve Mark Zuckerberg’s mission of making the world more open and connected. I’m going to continue to critique, but I’m also rooting for them to succeed long-term.