The Different Levels of Online Identity

Online Identity is an interesting topic. One way of looking at present day online identity is to think of it as being structured in a three level hierarchy. The most basic and top most level is email. It’s been around the longest and it’s the one constant required user input to register and use various web sites. With the advent of Web 2.0 and social networking, Facebook and Twitter became the two heavy-weights that comprise the second level of online identity. Many new web sites and mobile applications have moved to a model where the user may login or sign-up for the site or mobile application using their Level 2 (Facebook/Twitter) account. In other words, the user has the option of not even using an email address to login or sign-up. 

Let’s see how these different levels of online identity interact. First we’ll start with email and we’ll take a look at two popular email services: Gmail and Yahoo Mail. Here’s what the respective registration flows look like: 

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Moving on to the Level 2 online identities, Facebook and Twitter, the registration process looks like:

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As can be seen, a user is required to have an email account (a Level 1 identity) before they can register for Facebook and Twitter. 

Moving on to the Level 3 services/sites. Let’s consider the four following sites: Quora, Pintrest, Digg, Bitly.

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So even though users can typically register for these Level 3 sites using an email address, they also have the option to login or sign-up using one of their Level 2 online identities. This is done for a couple of reasons. For one reason, the user acquisition flow is quicker. The user doesn’t have to fill out a form with their personal information in order to start using the site. They can start using the site right away. More importantly, having the user login or sign-up using a Level 2 identity gives the Level 3 site or mobile application a hook into the user’s Facebook or Twitter world. This is advantageous because it can make the overall user experience on the Level 3 site more pleasant for the end user. 

Finally, here’s a diagram I created that is a good way to visualize how these different levels interact: 

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Twitter Phantom Unfollow Bug

Noticed something strange when viewing a twitter page on the iPhone mobile view. There was a blue oval-looking button on the screen:

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When I clicked on it, I was shown a dialogue window asking me if I wanted to unfollow the account I was viewing. This was completely unexpected. As can be seen in the image above and the image below, I’m not signed into Twitter. So how can I unfollow someone, if I’m not even signed into an account?!?

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On click of Unfollow, the Sign in screen is presented to the user.

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The correct user behavior would be to not show a button to unfollow if the user is not signed in. If anything, the user should see a Follow button that should activate Sign in on click if the user is not signed in.

Google Maps Doesn’t Support Multi Destination Routes With Public Transportation

When looking for driving directions on Google Maps, it’s possible for the user to click on a link to Add Destination. By clicking on this link, the user can add another destination to their trip. For example, say you wanted to start in San Jose, travel to Mountain View, and then finally travel to San Francisco. This feature will let you obtain directions for all phases of the trip instead of having to go through this flow for each phase separately. A pretty nifty feature. 

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The interesting thing is that on Google Maps, it’s not possible to do this if you select public transportation as your method of travel: 

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Not sure why this is. From a functionality stand point it’s definitely possible for the service to be able to offer this type of user query. I checked the walking and cycling options — and they too offer the option of adding multiple destinations, so it’s a bit odd that you can not plan out a multi-destination trip using public transportation on Google Maps. 

iOS Bug: Cannot Delete Contact From “Text Message” View

In an earlier post, I wrote about how a user cannot delete a contact on their iPhone if they edit the contact details while entering from the Favorites view. Today, I discovered that the same bug (feature?) also exists if you attempt to edit the contact details while entering from the Text Message view. 

Suppose you are text messaging with a friend:

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And if for whatever reason (say your friend is no longer responsive [insert sad face]) you want to delete this friend from your contact list. The logical thing to do would be to click on the Contact button to view and edit contact details. On click, you will see: 

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By clicking Edit, you will see: 

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And if you scroll down all the way – similar to the behavior of entering via the Favorites view, you will not see a Delete Contact button:

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Chase.com Outage Treatment Can Be Improved

Wanted to access my credit card statement on Chase.com and encountered a couple of different error messages. It appears that Chase.com was having an outage. There are typically two flavors of outages: the planned outage (this is when the website or application needs to do some scheduled maintenance and the company has no choice but to completely stop a key site flow or the entire site) and the unplanned outage (this typically occurs when there is an unexpected software or hardware problem that brings down a key site flow or the entire site).

Here are some screenshots:

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First thing I noticed when I encountered the page above was the “We’re sorry this website is temporarily unavailable” page title. I think better content would be to refer to Chase.com or “we” i.e. “We’re sorry but we are currently undergoing maintenance.” or “We’re sorry but Chase.com is currently unavailable” — the reference to “this website” is a bit informal. I also noticed the “chase_outage.htm” in the URL. This made me wonder about whether or not this was planned or if this message is put up during an unplanned outage.

At various other points, I got the page below. It’s pretty clear that this page is not at all useful to the user.

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iOS Bug: Cannot Delete Contact From “Favorites” View

Noticed some interesting behavior related to iPhone contacts. While viewing a particular contact details as initiated from the “Favorites” section, it is not possible to delete the contact. However, while viewing the same contact from the main contact list, it is possible to delete the contact. 

Let’s start with the typical use case. Start with a contact who is on your list of Favorites. Click on the Contacts icon and search for this contact amongst all contacts. Click on the contact to view details. Note the highlighted “Contacts” icon toward the bottom center of the image below:

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Click on the edit button in the top right corner to see this: 

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If you scroll all the way down, you will see the big red rectangular button to delete the contact:

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Let’s now look at this contact’s details from the Favorites view:

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Click on the arrow to see details:

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Click on edit to see:

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Scroll all the way to the bottom and you will NOT see the big red rectangular delete button!!

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Update: 7×7 Home Page Uses “+” and Not “AND”

In an earlier post, I wrote about the 7×7 mobile footer. Specifically, how there is an inconsistency with the last menu option as compared with the others. To recap, “TRIPS AND TRAVEL” used the word “AND” to join the two topics instead of a “+”. 

Today, I discovered that this is definitely a mistake as their main web site uses a “+” to join the same two topics:
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