A Spot on myPunchbowl

user-useitIntra-product-type consistency, the Recognition and intuitiveness present within a product, is a key component in determining the overall Usability of a product. For an air travel website to be usable, it should have some basic, recognizable, consistency with other airline products. For example, on the top-left region of most every air travel website you will find a form to enter starting and destination locations, departure and return dates, as well as the number of passengers traveling on the given trip.

Quick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX). In answering the question of Usability, "Can I use it?" the sub-category of Recognition is one of frequent discussion, especially in the latest wave of online products and how they handle content presentation and interaction.

Today, we will look at 2 examples of Internet products with Fair Recognition, representing a Recognition value of 0.5.

Example 1: Fair Recognition (value = 0.5)

Starting on the homepage, a feature commonly expected and observed on almost every event planning website, is the ‘create event’ button (or ability), and this is noticeably absent on this website.

00_mypunchbowl_homepage

myPunchbowl is a sound online event planner achieving Fair Recognition, a Recognition value of 0.5. The product presents minor changes in how it approaches the event creation process, from modified grouping of information to the sequence of steps that must be traversed.

The beginning of the event creation process provides no guidance as to what the subsequent steps will require or where / when the user will be prompted for the basic event information (the "when" and the "where").

01_top_step1

In this first stage, when the user is just trying to orient him/herself, and accomplish the common task of defining an event, they are presented with four choices of how one may like to proceed, instead of just being taken to the next logical, expected, stage of the event process.

02_bottom_step1

It isn’t until the user gets to the ‘Your Design’ stage that they are presented with a very recognizable interface for guiding them through the remainder of the event creation process.

03_yourdesign

There are basic elements that a user expects when creating an online event, from understanding the sequence of events to knowing how to enter the minimal information to get the event set up and completed. myPunchbowl forces the user to jump through the hoops of ‘event type’ and ‘initiation design’ before having the opportunity to enter information into the most expected features of online event planning, Title, Date, Time, Address, etc.

04_details

Altogether, it will not take the typical myPunchbowl user, or for that matter, an online event planner user, too long to orient themselves (through some poking, clicking, interacting), adapt and learn how to use the fairly Recognizable myPunchbowl event creation process.

Example 2: Fair Recognition (value = 0.5)

Sometimes the things that set you apart, those things that contribute to providing a unique experience can also lead to some unexpected results for the average user.

00_vayama_homepage

The typical travel website presents the user with a request for the basic information on the homepage, for example, start and end date, origin, destination, and number of passengers. Here too is where the Vayama, a travel website, begins the travel planning process.

After defining the basic parameters for a trip, a search is typically initiated. It is at this stage that Vayama‘s unique approach to simplifying the process results in a less Recognizable experience. On the generic travel website, the user, upon initiating the search, is brought to a specific webpage for browsing, and filtering the results.

Many websites also allow for the modification of the search parameters from the search page, while others require the user to return to the location from whence the search was initiated.

Vayama has combined all of these commonly separate pages into a single user interface that adapts as the user interacts with it. It isn’t until the user has to specify the travelers, select the seats, and pay for the tickets, that they even have to leave the homepage of the site.

01_page2

The combining of commonly separate steps presents its own set of Recognition challenges for the product’s users.

The initial search form alongside the search results makes one think that they can change anything on the page and alter the results. However, this is not the case. Search results pages typically present all of the controls that will filter and impact those results. The unique presentation and process at Vayama, result in different behaviors and set of expectations, requiring some finesse, poking, and interaction to adjust to this paradigm shift in travel planning.

This page requires some clicking and then paying close attention to see if there has been either no discernible reaction or, in other instances, an actual change. Expanding on this example, modifying information within the filter section has immediate impact on the search results, while modifying information within the top half of the form, the basic parameters, has no observable impact on the results, until the ‘search’ button is re-clicked (and all settings with ‘search section’ are reset and results erased).

02_search_and_filter

Another section of the website that results in achieving the Fairly Recognizable rating is the seat selection interface. The seat selection is very cool, but different. After a few seconds the user can orient to the 3D presentation — which is both unexpected and an unusual presentation within the travel industry. Most users won’t have an issue with the format, but the seat selection can be tricky and will require minor adaptation.

03_3dseats

Nothing at Vayama is overwhelmingly unrecognizable (much of the overall experience is fun) and, being Fairly Recognizable, can, with some finesse, be figured out and used by the average user.

* * *

To help everyone gain a deeper understanding of Quick-UX and how to benefit from performing quick, quantitative analyses of User Experience, I am, over the course of this series providing real-world examples of Recognition values…

Broad Recognition (value 1)

Fair Recognition (value 0.5)

Poor Recognition (value 0)

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Usability and Recognition of Quick-UX, the quick and easy method of generating quantifiable and comparable metrics representing the understanding of the overall User Experience of a product, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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About Jeremy Horn

Jeremy Horn is an award-winning, product management veteran with 2 decades of experience leading and managing product teams. Jeremy has held various executive and advisory roles, from founder of several start-ups to driving diverse organizations in online services, consumer products, and wearables. As founder of The Product Group, he has created the largest product management meetup in the world and hosts the annual awarding of The Best Product Person. Accelerating the next evolution of product management, Jeremy acted as creator and instructor of the 10-week product management course at General Assembly and The New School, and mentoring at Women 2.0 and Lean Startup Machine (where is he also a judge). To see where Jeremy is now check him out at (1) http://linkedin.com/in/TheProductGuy and (2) http://TheProductGuy.com

9 thoughts on “A Spot on myPunchbowl

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  4. A word on Vayama: while the user interface is quite stunning from the looks, it is also slightly defunct: I just tried to book a flight on Saturday to Prague.
    1/ When entering three letters from the airports, the first (and only) hit is not selected automatically – I have to navigate with mouse or cursor keys.
    2/ The calendar showed the dates up to the 20th crossed out. of course, it’s 9.20pm. I selected Saturday (22nd) with no problem, but when clicked the search tab (a search *tab*?!), an error message popped up that vayama cannot book less than 4 days in advance – so why not cross out these days, too? why letting me input all that data, just to tell me it’s not possible?

    Kayak.com also shows me seat availability, so I can choose whether I should really book right now, or can wait a few more hours…

    All in all, the little animations and mapping of flight legs is not really the killer, and clicking on a 3D seatmap was not really easy, either. Flashy, yes, but too much information…

    “No matter how beautiful, no matter how cool your interface, it would be better if there were less of it.” — Alan Cooper

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