[App Review] Questions – Ask and Answer

The App is simply called “Questions”.

A friend of mine contacted me from the Silicon Valley.

He is working on an old/new way to get answers from the interweb : humans.

We all know Google, Naver Q&A and Yahoo! Q&A. But this is an experience you need to try.

I was busy and not very reactive to his requests to try it. But it’s interesting. Just a beginning. But with huge implications.

The App is simply called “Questions – Ask and Answer“.

How it works

  • Ask a question : you record a short video asking something, give it a one work name and wait for answers
  • Answer a question : choose a title or a thumbnail that catched your attention and record a short video of you answering
  • For example : I asked “What is the best month to visit California?” and someone answered within 3 hours.

photo 5

 

What I like

  • Easy and very well adapted to a mobile experience. Would not imagined use this on desktop.
  • Nice to see the face of the people answering your. You can extract more information from facial expression than any textual response.
  • Fast answers
  • Lots of questions to answer
  • Quality of answers may vary but you can ask questions you would not think of trying to fit on Google keywords.
  • photo 2

What could be improved

  • Sometimes you don’t want to show your face, that’s one of the success of the Internet.
  • Level of questions and short time to answer makes it hard to see any profound answers or debates
  • Even for factual questions, it’s always faster to type on a search engine
  • UX and design is not perfect for the moment (dark theme), making the experience more awkward than necessary
  • Not a lot of users for the moment and no way to filter questions really.

 

They are just starting. But give it a try and tell me what you think.

There are a lot of interesting User Experience challenges here.

 

I’ve done goofed by koreanair.com

The other day I tried to buy a ticket on koreanair.com. I had to try 31 times to achieve the transaction.

Here are the ordeal I encountered.

E.T. go home

First of all : the Home page. Or should I say : one of the numerous home pages. There are so many ! Home page when you are logged, home page to select your country (which should be automatically detected, come on in 2010 !), home page in Korean when you encounter an error ! Great.

You must put one and only one page in you site you Korean Air people. And please, don’t use 2 home pages with just 2 pixels and a combo of difference.

Don’t follow the link, it’s broken

Maybe you would say : “OK, I’ll copy/paste the url and try to put it in Internet Explorer or Firefox or Safari or Chrome or Opera.” Fail ! Copy/paste does not give you a valid URL. It seems to be randomly generated to put you back on the one of the home pages.

Hey ! This text is an image !

Some buttons and some texts are images ! So if they are not translated from Korean, you have a chance it stays in korean even if the page is in english. Texts are horrible but it seems like korean websites use them an awful lot to create pixel-precise pages. Go away you semantic web, we don’t need you !

Unstable environment

One of the thing you don’t want to happen when your are manipulating real plane tickets with real money is server errors. This is what happens. Is my money transfered ? Are my tickets issued . No way to say because :

We don’t need no feedback

This is true, I don’t like to know if my transaction worked, if my credit card number if securely transmitted. I don’t care ! I prefer pink heart floating away.

I’m a little harsh with them : there are informations. Many, many informations. But not the one I need !

Fake-support-girl

At the end of a lost request please meet Useless-Support-Girl. She will be very pleased to tell you the phone number you cannot call to have no information.

Back to the future

If you try to print the source code of some pages, you will see code comment dated of 2002. Wow, was it HTML 1 or HTML 1.8 at the time ? Don’t look for AJAX. This little snobbish way of doing so-called modern-pages. It’s outdated in 2002. Or at least, not invented yet maybe.

Frames and tables

Yes, here they are. Many of them. Frames to avoid loading pages and tables to put stuff in rows. Yes, because CSS is so modern. It won’t be compatible.

Pop it up !

One great things about browser is ad blocking extensions and serial popups blocker. Koreanair.com uses popups to inform you about crucial stuff. Bummer. Please turn off this horrible feature. And you will be able to nearly try to maybe buy a ticket. Otherwise “ya dun goof‘d” man.

IE is the root of evil

You know what ? Internet Explorer is maybe the only browser used in Korea. Google Chrome ? Firefox ? What’t that ? We don’t need it. Our code is IE 4.3 fully compatible.

Conclusion

Thinking like a technology engineer (juste being IE compatible in 2002) makes bad UX.

Not thinking about the technology (putting great graphics but with no code evolution perspective) makes bad UX too.

You’ve got to consider both. Put a designer and a programmer in your team. Make them work together. Not one after the other.

Korean air is not really a nightmare of graphism and color, but truly of experience. Things seems right at a glance. But when you click and use it seriously it’s just impossible.

And you know what ? I tried to buy a tickets to it’s competitor Asiana. Same problem ! Do you believe it ?

My navigation system is trying to kill me

Have a look at the following picture.

Navigon and ViaMichelon

Now tell in which street I am: the first one on top and going to the one above ? Or the other way around ? (Think that you must look at the road while doing this of course.) For me it’s impossible.

The problem is : there is no universal convention to indicate going from a point to another. They could have used an arrow for example.

Also missing is the name of the city I’m in. I needed this information during a lot of occasions.

So before even thinking of putting TV on my GPS or Heads Up Display (which would rock !) : just make a good UI first.

Apple was wrong with the Notes App on iPhone

Making the Notes App look like a real notebook is an error.

The first time I used an iPad I lauched the Notes App. And I saw this is not just a yellow page with lines. There is a fine border of leather near the edge, and the background in not really yellow.

Just to make it look like a real notepad. Wrong.

I checked on iPhone : same thing. It looks like a real notepad.

What’s the problem with that ?

1. Same appearence does not means same interaction

Ruled Notebook and Lamy Scribble PencilWhat I like with real notepad is that I can write stuff on it. I don’t buy notebooks (and I use a lot of them) for the look of it. I just want to write on it.

So with this application I should be able, at least, to write on it, not look at it’s appearance.

But you could say : this is not a problem, if the application lets you use it like a real notebook, the fact that it looks like a real notebook is a bonus.

Right. But you can’t use it like a notepad. So why look the same if you can do less ?

I was not honest when I said I just want to write on a notebook. I also would like to DRAW. This I can’t do. The application looks like a notebook (useless), I can’t write on it (serious limitation).

My impression would not be the same if  it didn’t look like a notebook and I could not draw on it.  Would have been a simple text note app.

2. Softwares are a chance to get rid of physical limitations, not copying them

When I use the application, I want to do more than with just a simple notebook. I also want it to resolve some real life constraints. Otherwise I’d use my real notebook.

What I can’t do with a real notepad that Notes is doing :

  • No need for a pen, just use my hand : OK
  • Share my notes : OK
  • Copy/Paste : OK

What I can do with a real notepad that Notes is NOTdoing :

  • Put a picture in my note
  • Draw

My point is : there is a gap between what an application can do and what it looks like. So don’t use paradigm that are too old or uncompleted. Just do something else.

Software should be inspired from the reality but being able to do at least the same. Not less.

I had the same problem with Calendar on iPad : what bothers me in the reality (the margins and the page junction) is still here ! Just to make it look like a real agenda.

Same idea with BumpTop : it’s based on what bothers me a lot : gravity.  Now I must fight against gravity in my computer too.