Wireless Wonders

No news, just comment about mobile phones and services, from a veteran practitioner...3G, GPRS, WAP, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc...

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Usability, usability, usability...!!!...

...That's what I say (rant) umpteen times during presentations about "mobilisation", which is the process of making everything mobile-connected: unconnected connectedness.

As my previous post mentioned, making WAP "browsing" easier will mean more browsing, which means all kinds of positive results. Duh! It's obvious right?

Well, no!

We have to keep banging on about usability until the message gets through (forgive the pun). Barbara Ballard has pointed out that Sprint's usable voicemail and networked voice dialling is driving usage upwards. Sounds reasonable to me.

As a 20-year old solution, it's amazing how many voicemail systems are badly designed. I think there's a propensity towards lowest common mindlessness:

Engineer 1: "What does a voicemail system do?"
Engineer 2: "Same as it's always done."
Engineer 1: "OK, let's make ours do that then...."

Nearly every one-number system I've tried in the UK has some major quirk that drives callers crazy. Most of these services roll-out a 3rd part voice platform and just take its features at face value. More "tick-ware" - if users can tick the features they want, that's all they need. Right?

Wrong.

Hint: formal usability testing is not the same as waiting to hear suggestions/complaints from users.

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