Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Simplicity vs. Awareness

Simplicity vs. Awareness: read the small printA while back I was facing a dilemma how to make users aware of an issue we found on our application on specific phones. The issue made it look pretty bad: it made the phone stall (if I recall correctly) if people ran the application immediately after download.

You know people aren't reading stuff, presenting them with extra text screens (especially on mobile web) will make you loose some. But if you don't make them aware, those people will become real unhappy. In today's blogsphere, an unhappy user can have a lot of "signal strength".

you're damned if you do, you're damned if you don't. Pick your poison.

(going techy now, bus peeps please skip:) on some high-resolution, low-memory phones, imagine you have just downloaded the application, so presumably the browser is still open (hence memory implications), some temporary memory allocated to the downloaded app, and installer may still be running. you are being prompted: "do you want to run the application?" (that's kind of a given, ain't it?). if you go yes, the code scanning application will attempt to show a viewfinder, and then if you try to take a scan, the phone will attempt to allocate memory for the image. Well that brought the phone to its knees.

(non-techys safe to read from here). So I had two options: when people try to download with this phone, force them through an extra "don't say I didn't tell you" page (and loose people on the way) or let them find it out. I chose the first because I felt people at least need to know and would be bitter if they didn't.

why am I telling you this?

Because a couple days ago I got an invitation to a new service through from someone I know and respect (explanation later but important to say: HE PROBABLY DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT THIS INVITE).

It was for a service that allows you to call your Skype friends from your mobile for a local call (isn't this market saturated enough?) and no, it wasn't iSkoot's client. I knew this friend was an expert in the space and looking at technologies and solutions, so I thought why not, try it out myself. So I sign up and the things works nicely. I can see my Skype contacts in there so nice integration into Skype....typical web 2.0 expected convenience. You could even argue that inviting your friends to the service would be an obvious service.
Obvious, but not automatic.
It's just that I don't recall any prompt or any authorization asking me to go ahead and do so! before I know it, invitations were sent from my Skype account to all my contacts to join the service. Or maybe some of them, I don't know!

Anyways, I'm a bit upset about this and wanted to apologize to whoever got this invitation from me...I'm definitely not going to use the service anymore.

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