Posts Tagged ‘Usability’

Apple in Israel – part 2

January 18th, 2008 2 comments

A few weeks ago I criticized the language inconsistency and other bugs that existed on the Apple Israel web site. It’s time to follow up and see whether things have improved:

  • If you just look at the home page, then yes, the site feels more localized to Hebrew speakers. The top navigation bar uses more Hebrew labels than in the past. However, the experience across the site is still inconsistent. The home page (and many other pages on the site) serves as a simple launch pad since many of the links take the user to navigation bar




  • The support section has improved and contains plenty of content in Hebrew including quick starts, PDF guides, FAQ and more. - broken link on home page

  • There are still annoying bugs that I don’t expect to find on an official Apple site, such as linked “Store coming soon” image  that leads nowhere, or problems with Safari for Windows (as I wrote in the previous post).





Last note – In the past few weeks, some of the top search keywords that led traffic to this blog were “apple Israel” and “”. I expect this to increase when iDigital starts selling the iPhone, MacBook Air and other products. I wonder when will Rami Prashove, the owner of, get an offer he won’t be able to refuse.

Two good usability posts

January 18th, 2008 No comments

If you are interested in user interface design and usability, I recommend reading these:


MyBlogLog listen and added the missing label

November 27th, 2007 1 comment

A month ago I suggested to MyBlogLog to improve the way they display user’s online identities under the profile page. Today I noticed that they have listen and added favicons, with the matching social service name as Alt text, next to the usernames. This is a small change that makes a big difference.

Kudos for listening and fixing.

 MyBlogLog profile - now with favicons

A Very Friendly ATM Machine

November 15th, 2007 10 comments

During the 4th year of my undergraduate degree studies I took a Human Computer Interaction course. I remember that our professor used the ATM machine’s interface as an example of how to design a good interface to a product that is used by millions of people on a daily basis.

For many years I though that people who design and build ATM machines do not really use them. Otherwise, how would you explain the minimalist graphic design, poor messaging, lack of personalization and the length flow the user is required to go through in many cases.

Yesterday, I stopped at a Bank of America branch today to get some cash. A new machine made by Diebold was recently installed there. This specific machine was out of service, but instead of the typical small dark green screen with an “Out of service” message, a large full color screen with a very helpful message welcomed me. The screen listed all the nearby ATMs (I wonder when will they add a “Map This” feature using one of the popular mapping API services) — killer feature #1.

Diebold ATM at Bank of America - Suggested Nearby Locations

Since there were two other ATMs at the same location, I went and used a working one. This new model has another killer feature called “Fast Cash” – simply insert your ATM card, type in your PIN code using the touch screen interface, click on the Fast Cash button and you are done – it saves at least 3 key strokes to the average user and especially useful for those who tend to double park their card and block the road just to get some cash…

The machine lets you customize the “Fast Cash” amount, so every time you withdraw money using one of these new ATM machines, you are being presented with the same amount — killer feature #2.

Diebold ATM Diebold ATM at Bank of America - Fash Cash option

Now this is what I call a user friendly product and a well designed interface.

eBay is testing a new and improved search experience

November 13th, 2007 7 comments

While doing a search on eBay I noticed an invitation to try their new search at the Playground. I took the plunge and immediately liked the new experience and that fact it became cleaner, more visual and with better search refinement controls – just like how a product search should be (see,, and others).

eBay new search experience - Snapshot view

Here are a few additional observations on the new interface:

  • The active search criteria is clearly displayed above the result set. The user does not have to guess which options are on. In the old version it was more difficult and less clear – the user had to look at the drop downs located at the long left column (often this required scrolling). In the new interface, it is also very easy to remove a criteria using the red [x]. One things that would be a nice addition is the ability to add multiple options from the same category where it is applicable (for example – Brand or Technology)

 eBay new search experience - search criteria

  • As can be seen in the image above, a new mode for viewing results was added called “Snapshot”. It displays a tile of product images and when mousing over an image additional information is being displayed — just like Snap’s Snap Shots. This makes me wonder – is “Snap Shot” becoming a generic term (and verb) similar to what happened to Xerox and Google…?


  • The “Refine your Search” left column was redesigned and is now cleaner, shorter and displays most of the options above the fold line. This was achieved by moving some of the less frequently used options into a popup window (although some design work is still required to make sure all options are visible and there is not need to scroll), the usage of cleaner controls like the price slider (very popular on travel search sites like Kayak and Farechase) and simple controls instead of check boxes and drop downs.

   eBay new search experience - Refine your search control     

Bottom line – Kudos to the eBay team for creating an improved search experience. My only suggestion to you – add a “Filter by Color” option where applicable (Clothing, Shoes, Accessories and more).

Update: Renee VonBergen, a sr. manager for buyer experience at eBay, corrected me – a color slider is available in certain categories. The direction is really good but could be improved:

  • It would be helpful to see it on more products – some people pick their cell phone or guitar by the color :)
  • If you pick a color that returns no results, you get to something that is similar to a dead-end. In this case it would be helpful (for both eBay and the user) to get recommendations to similar products (“We could not find green shoes but we have blue ones”)

eBay new search experience - Color Slider


The Missing Label

October 25th, 2007 No comments

Since June ’07, a MyBlogLog user can add services to his profile. These are the user’s online identities on over 30 popular social services (Digg, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, and others). This is very useful and creates a richer profile.

But viewing someone’s profile and figuring out which username belongs to which service is a frustrating process that involves trial and error. Labels (text or favicons) would greatly help here.

Make labels for data fields distinctive, so that they will not be readily confused with data entries, labeled control options, guidance messages, or other displayed material.” (Jakob Nielsen, Sixty Guidelines)

No labels on MyBlogLog user profile pages is now optimized for the iPhone and iPod Touch

October 15th, 2007 No comments optimized for the iPhone using the iWPhone WordPress Plug-inI am happy to announce that the experience for my readers who use iPhone or iPod Touch to read this blog has been upgraded.

I installed the iWPhone WordPress Plug-in on my blog. This plug-in automatically reformats the blog content for optimized viewing on an iPhone and iPod Touch.



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When the tag line is "Grab a Chair" no wonder people actually do it

September 14th, 2007 No comments

I have not had a chance to try it myself although I really want to, but from the video below it looks like a cool on board instant messaging feature which is part of the on flight entertainment system on the new Virgin America air planes is becoming an annoyance to many passengers, especially those who are not into chatting or high altitude matchmaking.

Perhaps Virgin needs to add instant messaging/chat privacy settings to the flight preferences section on the eleVAte passenger profile page. Or how about installing a shock absorber at the back of every seat so people will stop complaining that others poke their chairs.

By the way, the mood lighting looks really groovy!

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Yahoo! Mail – Please respect end user settings

August 30th, 2007 1 comment

I don’t want to add any fuel to the flame, I just want to report an annoying problem that I hope will get addressed soon. After all, according to Sue Decker’s memo, Yahoo is going to focus more on the customers, rather than on the advertising products.

Here is my problem – as a premium Yahoo AT&T user I want my Yahoo Mail to be ad-free. Well, for some reason Yahoo insists on showing me ads. . No matter how hard I try to hide the advertising panel on the right it keeps coming back the second I move between tabs within the application (read message, compose, back to inbox etc).

Take a look – just follow the cursor:

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TheMarker IT looks good

August 21st, 2007 2 comments

[This post is for those who read Hebrew websites…]

TheMarker is one of the few Israeli web sites that constantly introduces new products, features, technologies and improvements such as: Tag Cloud, Social Network and experimental UI

I visited TheMarker earlier today and was surprised and pleased to see something new once again. TheMarker IT (still in Beta) which covers the Israeli Internet & technology industry is their latest product and from a first look I can say that the TheMarker team did a pretty good job.

Things I like in particular:

  • The site seems to load faster compared to TheMarker (although there is always room for improvement when it comes to speed). Hopefully this will continue to last even with the (expected) increase in the number of ads on the site as well as the (expected) increase in traffic to the site
  • Overall design style
  • The width of the pages was increased by 200 pixels and more information is now visible above the fold. The extra width makes the page feel lighter and less cluttered compared to TheMarker. I assume that this change is due to the fact the majority of the readers are IT professional using high resolution/large displays and they all saw large empty margins screaming “Use Us!”

Things I think can be improved:

  • I have an issue with the fact that the site has no navigation bar and that the only way to access different sections is by using the tag cloud at the top bar. Tags are great but should not be the primary navigation method
  • “Popular Stories” section could be moved above the fold to increase visibility and serve it’s purpose. The “Upcoming Events” section is probably not that important and could be moved down
  • The integration with TheMarker can be improved. It is not clear to me why top stories on TheMarker’s High-Tech section would not show up on TheMarker IT. Perhaps this is a symbolic sign that the there needs to be a better connection between Israel’s Technology and Internet industries & the rest of the world

Final suggestion – The Search results page could be greatly improved using Snap Shots next to each search result. This will improve the user experience (especially since some of these pages load really slow) and would add some web2.0 glam to the site.


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