Wednesday, November 30, 2016

improving designs

In this live post, we keep a list of ideas for design improvement for various products - or simply noting shortcomings (pet peeves?) to help either the product maker make improvements, or help their competitors build substitutes that improve user experience. We also note instances where product design makes them a delight to use.

  1. [Good] Pigeon baby feeding bottles have a wonderful feature. The caps are "dented" by design on one side. This beautiful feature ensures they cannot roll away. Would be nice if other makers of otherwise smooth, child safe products could spend as much care on the design of their products.
  2. [Needs improvement] YouTube does a good job showing videos in a playlist. Many play-lists - the ones I use most anyway - are lecture videos. Now if only they could show the length of each video in the playlist, that would be really useful to users who can then schedule how they watch them between other things they do during the day.
  3. [Needs improvement] YouTube videos vary in sound intensity. Often, if playlists are assembled by third parties cobbling together videos uploaded by different providers, as the playlist switches from one video to the next, the sound either goes silent or erupts loudly - very disruptive. It would be nice if sound was auto-adjusted or normalized on upload for all videos for better user experience.
  4. [Needs improvement] Google search should offer a button on the interface to "turn off" the search bubble, so different individuals, at least in the same geographies, can run the same search terms and get the same results. Otherwise this requires people to log out of their Google accounts each time they want this, or use alternative searches like DuckDuckGo, and neither is very convenient.
  5. [Needs improvement] Amazon's Alexa does an impressive job listening to and identifying speech (e.g. by displaying the correct spoken words on screen in the Kindle Fire), but often responds indicating "she" does not "understand" the request - if it were to simply run a web-search on the text and provide results - like Microsoft's Cortana does in many similar instances - it would be more useful.
  6. [Needs improvement] Decoupling agents from proprietary platforms and linking them instead to service portals. No reason we cannot have the Google agent when we use Google on non-Android phones. Or Alexa on non-Kindles, or Cortana on non-Windows devices. May the best agent win, whoever she might be.
  7. [Needs improvement] CVS, Walmart, and other stores rip people off when they need multiple passport size photographs. They charge $7.50-14 for a set of two photographs, then require you to pay the same for additional copies - even though they don't take your picture again or you don't need your picture taken again. All you want is prints for the rest, that cost $0.13 or so per sheet of 6! However, I recently learned that there were apps like passport photo booth (for both Android and iPhone) that can take your picture to spec, generate and email you a sheet of 6 passport photos. It would be nice if these apps had a feature that let you convert the background to white or off-white that most official photographs require.
  8. [Good] I was pleasantly surprised by how some medicine bottles have incorporated a dropper into the cap indicating how much medicine each drop contains. Imagine for example having to measure out a 2 ml dose, and being told each drop is 1/10 ml. Now all you need to do is count out 20 drops. No more need for messy syringes and the cleanup that follows.
  9. [Needs improvement] I love solving problems on HackerRank to improve my coding skills, and well, just to keep away boredom. However, the interface needs some work before the tool is ready for prime-time. In python for example, I have noticed several times that tests fail when I click "Submit", then pass when I just hit refresh with zero code changes! Also, some problems are not completely well-specified, and the ambiguity there detracts from the quality of the rest of the website. This could be a major issue because many employers are starting to rely on this and similar websites as recruitment tools, and they may unfortunately be screening out qualified applicants unused to the sometimes horrific interface. Another improvement this site could use is giving users insight into how various test cases were designed. This will help programmers gain skill and learn a skill that would be quite valuable in the real world.
  10. [Good] A quick shout-out to Trader Joe's. What an awesome store! (never thought I'd say that about a place where you buy, of all things, groceries!) Their organizational design is something behemoths like Walmart could learn from. They pay and treat their employees well. In every store I've been to from this chain (and I've visited several), I have always seen employees happy, smiling, and going the extra mile for customers. Contrast this with Walmart, where I've seen employees pick quarrels with customers and be generally turned off on their jobs - I feel sorry for them. I hear many Walmart employees cannot even shop there themselves - at those low prices! Sorry state of affairs indeed.
  11. [Good] Imagine playing a game of chess where each player draws a set of 8 pieces at random from a bag to start with, and then plays just these. Clash Royale is a mobile game that does something along these lines. Extremely well-designed, you play to earn cards with different characters that then form your army that you use in battles with fellow players to earn coins or gems. Instantly addictive, this game is extremely well designed. Not just that, periodically the company (Supercell) studies the statistics of card usage and tweaks the "powers" of each card to make game-play more interesting. Kudos on a job well done!

No comments:

Post a Comment