Yahoo Finance iPhone Stocks App Has Irrelevant News Suggestions

I’ve noticed a lot of low quality results when looking at the news article feed for stocks in the Yahoo Finance iPhone Stocks App. It seems that for a given stock, for example eBay, the app is suggesting any article that even has a mention of eBay.

Recently, I’ve been noticing a lot of articles that are relevant for Yahoo Inc., but not eBay. The reason is fairly obvious: the current CEO of Yahoo Inc., used to be an employee of eBay Inc. As such, many online articles about Yahoo point out the fact that Scott Thompson used to work for eBay.

That being said, the App can be a little smarter in deciding which articles to show. For example, it can analyze the click through rate of a given article that shows up both for eBay and Yahoo — and most likely for these types of articles, users viewing the Yahoo ticker symbol are going to be more likely to click through on the article as it’s more relevant to them. Once that occurs, the same articles should move down the search rankings when they are in the eBay stock ticker news view.

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LinkedIn People You May Know Invite/Connect Flow Lacks a Step

When you go to a user’s profile page on LinkedIn, there’s a large button you can click on to connect to that user. On click, you will see:

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Before sending the invitation, you are required to specify how you know the person i.e. is the person a colleague? classmate? or just a friend?

There’s at least one other way you can connect to people — through the “People You May Know” module in the top right of the main landing page. Here, there is a “see more” option that will take you to a full page dedicated to “People You May Know”.

On this page, LinkedIn is giving you suggestions of people to connect with. Here is an example:

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By clicking on “Connect” I expected to be taken to the same page as shown above — namely where I can specify how I know this person. However, I see the following treatment:

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What is interesting here is that the user is not required to specify how they know the person they are trying to connect with.

My reactions:
1. I don’t like the inconsistent user experience. It doesn’t make sense where in one flow I’m asked for this extra information and in another flow I am not. If there’s a compelling reason to ask for this information, it should be included in both flows. If there is no compelling reason, it should be removed from both flows.
2. Given that this extra step is not in the new “People You May Know” page, intuition says this piece of information is not vital. Given that, I do like the fact that it is left out and the end-to-end experience for the user is shortened. Having this functionality makes it possible to keep the user on the People You May Know page without having them leave. Thus, they’re more likely to connect with other recommendations on the same page.

Magic Button to Scroll to the Top

Noticed something cool on the Pintrest home page. Pintrest, like many other sites, has a view where the user can almost indefinitely continue to scroll down the page. As long as the user keeps on scrolling, the site asynchronously fetches more content. I’ve seen this in Facebook (news feed), Google+ (stream), and many other iOS web pages. 

What’s cool about such an interaction is that the user is not required to click on a button to go to the next page to view more content. They can just keep going. What’s not cool is that most of the time, when you get to the bottom — especially for many iOS pages, there’s no easy way to get to the top. 

Pintrest solves that problem by placing a button on the page, that when clicked, will take the user gracefully to the top of the page — and will also cleverly animate that the page was scrolled up. 

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As an example of what happens in the case without such a button, you can take this blog itself. By going to my main landing page, azadzahoory.com, you have the ability to scroll down, and down, and down, until you reach my first ever post on Google Finance and Google +1. At this point, you will notice the block in the scroll bar has gotten very tiny and there’s no easy way to go to the top unless you click and drag the block all the way up. 

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Encouraging Shopping Through Personification

I like this content from Amazon.com: 

Your Shopping Cart lives to serve. Give it purpose–fill it with books, CDs, DVDs, toys, electronics, and more.

While it’s a bit silly to think of the cart as “living to serve” as it’s obviously not a living entity, it’s a clever way to try to entice the user into adding items to their cart. 

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Page/Session Time Out: PG&E vs. Star One

Here’s the PG&E treatment for a web session time out:

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What I don’t like is that this is being done in a layer and the main page is still visible behind the layer. The main reasons the site is doing a session timeout is for the user’s security and privacy. With this treatment, the privacy aspect is not protected at all. Any new user who shows up to the computer, can see what the previous user was doing behind the layer. In terms of security, while the layer may protect any new malicious users from going into the original user’s account, leaving behind access to the original user’s account number is a security hole.

A better way to do it is to paint a new “timeout” page:

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Or in the case of Bank of America, paint an interstitial temporary “you are about to timeout” page. Then redirect the user to the home page.

News Null Search Results: Yahoo vs. Google

One subtle, yet important, aspect of search is how a search engine handles null search results. This is the use case when the search engine cannot find anything relevant to the user’s search query. The ability to handle this use case is important for traditional search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo), vertical search (i.e. Yahoo News or Google News), or even an e-commerce site such as eBay or Amazon. 

I ran a search query in Yahoo News that led to zero results being returned. So I tried the exact same query in Google News and saw plenty of results. 

Yahoo News: 

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Google News:

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So what’s going on here? I know people prefer Google search to Yahoo search and algorithmically, one could make the case that it has a smarter search “brain”. But for one site to have plenty of results and for another to not have any results is probably not a deficiency in the search “brain” but rather the product choices for the Yahoo news search engine. 

Perhaps the Yahoo news search is looking for an exact match of all three search terms consecutively in an article i.e. “mega millions tragedy”. Perhaps Google news search is more loose and simply searches for articles that contain at least one instance of all three words, or even more loosely at least one instance of one of the search terms. 

The point is, in the case of null search results, the product is better served trying to find a partial match for the user instead of admitting defeat and returning nothing. 

LinkedIn Education Sub-Module Lacks Details

Noticed something strange about the LinkedIn Education Sub-Module in my profile page:

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It lists out the fact that I went to UCLA two times. At first glance, this may seem like a product bug. Why would it list it out twice? Upon further review, it’s clear that the reason why this is the case is because one mention is for my undergraduate degree, and the other is for my graduate degree. 

This confusion can be easily avoided by displaying the degree earned (ideally with the major) in the sub-module itself. 

ZERO People Have Switched to Hotmail

I was reading an article and stumbled across the following MREC ad which pointed to this URL

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I was curious, so I clicked through. It took me to a page that listed the virtues of switching to Hotmail (mainly as compared with Yahoo Mail). The funny thing about this page is that at the top, the counter of people who had switched thus far remained at ZERO!

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I tweaked the URL to this, and was shown what I assume to be the correct page below:

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iTunes Playlist: Delete vs. Remove

In an earlier post, I wrote about how items in the Amazon.com Shopping Cart are removed and how the initial call to action is “delete”.

Noticed something similar in iTunes. When viewing the options after selecting a song while in the Playlist View, you see the following:

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By clicking on “Delete”, you are shown the following dialog:

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So essentially, in order to remove a song from a playlist, you need to click on the “delete” option. I don’t find this user experience ideal as one would reasonably associate the “delete” option with permanently deleting the mp3 from your computer – not necessarily simply removing it from this current playlist. Furthermore, if the next dialog is asking you “hey, are you sure you want to remove this song”, then even iTunes is acknowledging what you are doing is removing, and not deleting. The better user experience would be to add an option “Remove from Playlist” in the same menu section as “Add to Playlist” and “Show in Playlist”.