Wireless Wonders

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

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Death by email...wirelessly ("obvious" idea #74)

My latest mobile device connects to Exchange using activesync over the air. I could describe in boring detail how tedious the whole affair is, how slow, how apparently inefficient. I could mention the strange default behaviour, such as syncing the sent-items folder, which is probably the last thing needed when on the move. I could also mention that it has failed to sync on several occasions without any meaningful error message whatsoever (why is that not a surprise?).

However, following on from my previous posting about "user instructions", it is not obvious how to change settings - such as turning sent-items syncing off. Is that possible? Perhaps it is, but where are the instructions? I self-provisioned the service and thank God it was self-provisioned, although it asked for the SMTP address of my mobile device, which is not obvious, especially if, as was my case, you don't have one. (NOTE: as a technical person, I happen to know what an SMTP address is, but what about the average self-provisioning Exchange user?)

Having self-provisioned, perhaps the service could have sent me a welcome email with some instructions, or where to find them online. In fact, in case I misplace such a message, were it to exist, there should be a perpetual button on the user interface - "send me instructions". If the service gets updated, it could have a little "New" icon beside it, so I can download any new instructions that might be useful.

These are matters of design - "user experience" design, not "user interface" design. Unfortunately, "user experience" has become a buzz word used by marketers like it's a shopping item. "Sure, we have a user experience - you can put a tick in that box."

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