Safari on the iPhone offers users an option to enable private browsing. If you enable this setting, the browser will stop tracking your web history, your search history, as well as other user inputs such as usernames and passwords. Here’s how you enable the setting in iOS 6.0.1:
Today, I noticed that if I go to a user’s Twitter page while this setting is enabled for Safari mobile web, Twitter simply does not work. Here’s what the user sees in iOS Safari with private browsing enabled when the user goes to mobile.twitter.com/BillSimmons:
Essentially, the user sees a blank page with nothing in it. The expected result can be observed when the private browsing setting is disabled:
I really can’t think of a good reason for the Twitter mobile web experience to stop working correctly if the browser is in the private mode. Perhaps something having to do with cookies that Twitter is trying to manage on the user’s device and an error leading to nothing being shown. But either way, this is a predominantly read-only view and should be shown without issue to the user in either browser mode.
Noticed something strange with the Amazon.com buying flow. Even after a recent sign-in (within the last 5 minutes), the flow prompts you to sign-in again before completing your payment. Let’s go through the flow…
Step 1: Come to the Amazon.com home page.
Step 2: Hover the mouse over Sign In and click on the Sign In button.
Step 3: Enter email address and password, click on button to proceed.
Step 4: Click on a product to view product details.
Step 5: Click on Add to Cart.
Step 6: Click on Proceed to checkout.
Step 7: The user is asked to Sign In again?!?
Step 8: User is brought to the final step to pay.
The fact that the user is asked to sign-in again after a very recent sign-in seems a bit strange and superfluous. While this may be a bug, it is most likely a conscious product decision in order to ensure a higher level of account security in the end-to-end flow. However, since other major e-commerce sites, such as eBay, do not require this extra sign-in step after the user has recently established the correct credentials, Amazon may be able to remove this extra step. The advantage of removing this step is that any extra step in a buying flow is a point of friction for the user and may lead to user drop-off. By removing this step, more users will buy more items — ideally without a sacrifice to account security.
Discovered another case of a disparity between a product’s iPhone app and the same product’s Safari mobile web app on the iPhone. I was browsing for some books on the Amazon iPhone app and was curious to see what the Amazon Sales Rank of a particular book was. Everywhere I looked in the product description, I was surprised to see that I could not find it. So I turned to the mobile web app to see if it existed there. Lo and behold, I found the sales rank in the product details section of the mobile web app product page:
Then I returned to the iPhone app to see if I could find it in the same section. Surprisingly, I found the same section with all of the same pieces of information for the book, except for one: the sales rank.
I’m fairly certain that this is a bug and that if Amazon has made the decision to show this piece of information to the user in the mobile web view, there’s no reason not to show the same information in the iPhone app view. Especially since they are showing all other pieces of information (i.e. ISBN numbers, number of pages, shipping weight, etc.) in the same Product Details view.
I was browsing through the connections of one of my own connections on LinkedIn. In other words, this is the equivalent of going through a friend’s list of friends on Facebook.
Here’s what I saw. I’ve blacked out the profiles that take up most of the screenshot, but the key part to observe is the numerical pagination at the bottom of the screen:
What struck me about this design is that the pagination is not very intuitive. How on earth do I know what page 4 has, and what page 34 has? The whole purpose of including these various options for the user is to make it easier for the user to find what they are looking for. In this case, I would be much better served if there were links to alphabetical letters representing the different last names of my colleague’s connections. That would be an entirely more intuitive approach.
Going back to the analogy of comparing this to Facebook friends of friends. That page is currently designed by using progressive loading of the page that eventually loads all of the friends of my friend. LinkedIn can use a similar approach (which they already do in their newer People You May Know page) or they can use alphabetical pagination for a more user friendly experience.