Posts tagged: usability

Web Business Models and how Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, yUp! and CyVee are doing

By , September 6, 2008 1:57 am

A response to Anh Hung’s question on success possibility of CyVee.

ThanhNien Online's New Design

By , August 27, 2008 9:47 am

Following VnExpress & VTC, ThanhNien Online – currently ranking 12th in Vietnam on Alexa – has rolled out a new design.

ThanhNien Online New Design screenshot

This new portal is built on Microsoft SharePoint 2007. Media is built on Microsoft Silverlight.

Overall, the blue theme is more pleasant to the eyes than VnExpress is. Since content is right on the left, it is easier to zoom in than with VTC.

Technically, the biggest issues with SharePoint is performance and scalability. Do you think ThanhNien would encounter any problems with these?

What do you think of this design?

Click here to update your life to those who you care about and receive updates from them in one flick with Plurk

By , August 26, 2008 11:29 am

Update quicker, more conveniently and more centralizedly

First of all, you want to stay updated with your family, friends and other networks. Conventionally, you can use phones, emails, IMs or face-to-face to communicate.

But there are 2 issues with the conventional channels:

  1. The updates are scattered through everywhere
  2. You only update significant events. How about other every little stuffs you do that matter to your beloved and make you an interesting person?

One solution has come: Plurk

And here comes Plurk

What is Plurk?

Plurk is a FREE web service that allows you to update your activities, receive updates from your connections on a timeline graph.

What is timeline?

Plurk Timeline

Plurk is not just text. There is the time flowing and the messages look like they float it is interesting and fun to follow.

For navigation, there are 4 ways to navigate through the timeline:

  1. drag with mouse
  2. scroll with mouse wheel
  3. use the arrow button graphics at both the right/left end of the timeline
  4. keyboard arrow keys <= =>

Updating your activities is one important way to increase your Karma.

What is Karma?

Karma is the point you receive when Plurking. You can see the short list of Karma in this picture:

Plurk Karma list

For more details, you can go to the help page for Karma at http://www.plurk.com/Help/karmaHelp

Karma scores are calculated 3 times a day, 12:00 am, 8:00 am, and 4:00 pm Universal time.

What is Karma for?

With Karma, you can

  1. Customize your profile and change your mascot
  2. Use more emoticons
  3. Maybe more in future

How to increase Karma

  1. Plurk regularly, but not more than 30 plurks per day
  2. Invite friends
  3. Update your profile
  4. Plurk interesting stuffs to get responses
  5. Get more fans

Also, beware of actions that lower Karma

  1. Losing fans
  2. Friend request rejected
  3. Spam
  4. Inactivity

Other features

You can also share links on Plurk. Long URLs are shortened.

Clique is simply a group of friends. Maybe 5 of your friends play on the same soccer team, or maybe 3 of your friends work at the same company. Cliques help you manage your audience so that you can send plurks to only the friends who need to be notified.

Badges are included on your profile whenever you achieve certain milestones on Plurk like “Reached Plurk nirvana”, “Invited more than 10 users”, “Has more than 50 fans”, “Translator”…

You can view interesting Plurkers at http://www.plurk.com/browse

Why Plurk

So comes the big question: why do I have to use Plurk?

Firstly, it solves the problem: update and get updates. Plurk centralizes all your updates in one place. Plurk is quick. Plurk is fun. Plurk is real-time and is with an interesting interface.

Secondly, Plurk can be used as a micro-blog. Imagine you’re so busy to write a long blog post. With Plurk, you can note down quickly and easily.

Next, Plurk is a powerful tool to make announcements to your followers.

What’s more, Plurk is a place to make new friends who share the same interests as yours.

What are other reasons to use Plurk that I haven’t thought of?

Tools for Plurk

There are some handy tools that make Plurking more exciting.

  1. Firefox Sidebar gives you a Twitter-like interface in a sidebar.
  2. Ping.fm allows you send updates to Twitter and Plurk simultaneously as well as other social networking services like Facebook, MySpace, Friendster…
  3. Karma Trends shows your karma accumulation progress.
  4. Mobile Plurk is a version of Plurk on Mobiles.
  5. FriendFeed Tab adds a Plurk tab to your FriendFeed page.

What are other things I can look at?

The press page: http://www.plurk.com/press

The blog of the team: http://blog.plurk.com/

The Plurk team: http://www.plurk.com/plurkteam . You can view amix, deniz, alvin, dima

So what’s next?

I won’t let you stop here wondering what to do. Just CLICK HERE and start Plurking with me.

Bad examples of domain selection: shop360, thugian360 & yeah1

By , August 19, 2008 11:10 pm

shop360.vn, thugian360.com, yeah1.com are apologies to domain selection.

Why? Many Vietnamese computers have UniKey installed to type Vietnamese with accents. If the users prefer VNI method, when they type the domains in the address bar:

  • shop360 becomes shôp
  • thugian360 becomes thugiân
  • yeah1 becomes yeah1

yeah1 has a cool notation: it looks like <strong>yeah!</strong>. But with the mistake above, efforts to create a brand are wasted.

Why did Yahoo! 360 make it? Because the number stands alone: 360.yahoo.com

Another issue is with hi5, but since the service is not originally from Vietnam, they’re not to blame.

How many friends have you added? What do you do when you hit the cap?

By , August 18, 2008 11:55 pm

Yahoo! Messenger screenshot

In Vietnam where I’m living, Yahoo! Messenger is the most popular IM service. Like most Vietnamese, I started communicating through IM with Yahoo! Messenger.

In 2006, my account has reached its maximum number of friends an account can add: 300.

My Yahoo! 360, Yahoo’s blogger service also limits to 300 and I always have a hard time managing my friend list. I had to work around by configuring registry to allow multiple Y!M instances to run at once.

So my concern when registering for any social network or IM service is the maximum number of friends an account can add.

And here’s the current data:

Facebook

5,000 for Facebook. This is sufficient for me, till now.

Windows Live Messenger screenshot

600 for Windows Live Messenger. Still not enough, as my connections now have passed 1,000.

300 for Yahoo! Messenger and Yahoo! 360. I can’t live with this cap.

Gtalk screenshot

No statistics for Gtalk

Yahoo! 360plus Vietnam logo

1,000 for Yahoo! 360plus Vietnam. However, “add friend” in this service doesn’t work in the standard way since friend adding is one-way: doesn’t require confirmation, doesn’t show vice versa.

2,000 for Twitter. I haven’t planned to reach that number just yet.

So what platform are you on? Have you reached the cap in your friend list? If yes, what have you done to solve the issue?

How these Firefox 3-compatible addons save me one hour per day

By , August 18, 2008 11:38 am

I’m on Firefox 3 too, and I utilize addons to enrich my web experience too, like most of you there.

There have been countless of entries to useful Firefox addons, but what’s different about this post is that it measures the costs that can be saved for users when using these extensions.

What are the costs of usability and how much are they?

The descending order of severity of the costs are

  1. Screen loads: this is a pain when internet connection is slow. It usually takes most time of all interactions with the computer
  2. Mouse movements: mouse movements severely damage the wrist and this should be minimized
  3. Mouse clicks: mouse clicks are less severe than mouse movements, but are also expensive
  4. URLs: an URL takes time to type in
  5. Enters: it hurts the little finger
  6. Hot keys: hot keys usually consists of at least 2 keys, but are regarded as less expensive than Enters because they are mostly done with the left hand, reduces damage to the right hand

Now, let’s start with the addons!

The first six in the batch: Google Toolbar, Diigo Toolbar, StumbleUpon Toolbar, TwitterFox, CustomizeGoogle, Better YouTube

Google ToolbarGoogle Toolbar for Firefox

Google Toolbar provides search, “I’m feeling lucky” and images search functions without having to go to Google.com

It also supports Gmail notifications and Google PR check

If I don’t use this addon If I use this addon
Costs
  1. Ctrl+T
  2. Alt+D
  3. Input: google.com/ncr or images.google.com
  4. Enter
  5. Wait for one screen load
  6. Enter
  7. Input search keywords. Enter
  8. Wait for one screen load
  1. Move mouse to the toolbar
  2. Input search keywords
  3. Enter or move mouse to “Search the Web for images”
  4. Wait for one screen load
Cost saved
  • Two mouse movements
  • One screen load
  • Two hot keys
  • One URL
  • Enters
  • This can save me 10 seconds

Diigo Toolbar

I have used Diigo as a replacement of delicious (I still love the old brand del.icio.us)

Though delicious tagging is smarter and usability is better, Diigo supports web-highlighting which makes it an advantage.

Diigo toolbar allows user to bookmark their favorite web pages for later reference. With Diigo, all bookmarks are centralized when users move from computer to another.

If I don’t use this addon If I use this addon
Costs
  1. Alt+D to move cursor to the address bar
  2. Ctrl+C to copy the link to post
  3. Ctrl+T
  4. Alt+D
  5. Input: diigo
  6. Enter
  7. Wait for one screen load
  8. Move mouse to “My Bookmarks”
  9. Click
  10. Wait for one screen
  11. Move mouse to “Add a bookmark”
  12. Ctrl+V
  13. Enter
  14. Move mouse to “Tags” (assume that I ignore “Description”)
  15. Input tags
  16. Move mouse to “Add New Bookmark”
  17. Click
  1. Move mouse to the “Bookmark” button
  2. Click
  3. Input tags
  4. Click
Cost saved This can save me 60 seconds

StumbleUpon Firefox addonStumbleUpon Toolbar

StumbleUpon works on an interesting concept: when you hit the Stumble! button, the addon takes you to a random interesting page that matches your preferences.

The StumbleUpon toolbar makes it more convenient for you.

If I don’t use this addon If I use this addon
Costs
  1. Alt+D to move cursor to the address bar
  2. Ctrl+C to copy the link to post
  3. Ctrl+T
  4. Alt+D
  5. Input: diigo
  6. Enter
  7. Wait for one screen load
  8. Move mouse to “Post new blog”
  9. Ctrl+V
  10. Move mouse to “Post new blog” button
  11. Click
  1. Move mouse to the “I like it!” button
  2. Click
Cost saved This can save me 45 seconds

CustomizeGoogle Firefox addonCustomizeGoogle

This powerful addon modifies Google search results and display preferences. It supports options for Web Search, Images, Groups, News, Products, G Answers, G Books, Gmail, G Galendar, G Maps, G Docs, Video, Reader, Cache, Blogger, History, Privacy and Filter

If I don’t use this addon If I use this addon
Costs From Google Images Search screen

  1. Move mouse to the thumbnail
  2. Right-click to open context menu
  3. T
  4. Ctrl+Tab
  5. Wait for half a screen load (only need the thumbnail to be loaded)
  6. Move mouse to the thumbnail
  7. Click
  8. Wait for one screen load
From Google Images Search screen

  1. Move mouse to the thumbnail
  2. Right-click to open context menu
  3. T
  4. Ctrl+Tab
  5. Wait for one screen load
Cost saved
  • Half a screen load
  • One Click
  • This can save me 30 seconds

Twitterfox

If I don’t use this addon If I use this addon
Costs
  1. Ctrl+T
  2. Input twitter.com
  3. Enter
  4. Wait for one screen load
  1. Move mouse to the Twitterfox icon
  2. Click
  3. Wait for one mini-screen load
Cost saved This looks like it costs even more than the web version. However, the time to load the mini-screen is much less than it does to load the full web page

Better YouTube

This Greasemonkey-based addon loads the YouTube video faster and allows downloading the video. Generally it saves me half an hour per day for one video.

Conclusion

With the intensity of these service I use everyday, these addons easily save at least one hour each day for me.

I can use this one hour for other business purposes which can generate other benefits.

What is your experience? What do you think of my approach when analyzing these?

Tai Tran's Choices (and dilemma) of Media

By , July 30, 2008 4:07 pm
Service vs. Service I choose: Why? But…
Self-hosted WordPress vs. WordPress.com Self-hosted WordPress Branding & Plugins
Facebook vs. MySpace Facebook Facebook is more organized
del.icio.us vs. diigo diigo Web high-lighting My community is on del.icio.us
Twitter vs. Plurk Plurk Timeline GUI My community is on Twitter
Digg vs. reddit vs. Mixx Mixx Less hostile toward content creators
Yahoo! Mail vs. Gmail vs. Hotmail Yahoo! Mail yahoo.com is easier to remember for my connections I really want to use Gmail
Yahoo! Messenger vs. Windows Live Messenger vs. Gtalk Windows Live Messenger Twice the maximum number of friends one account can add compared to that of Y!M yahoo.com is easier to remember for my connections

What is your choice of media channel? Do you have dilemmas of choosing them?

Facebook vs. Orkut in Photo sharing

By , July 28, 2008 1:37 am

I admit that what kept me on Facebook for so long is its ability to host photos. I’m really happy how Photos and Photo upload work in Facebook.

The only thing I don’t like about it is that it auto-resizes photos to 604px width.

I don’t use MySpace, unfortunately.

The third most popular social networking site is Orkut, and I have some friends there.

I’ll just make a comparison on my most frequently used feature: Photo sharing.

Service Quantity Limit Capacity Limit Resize Allowed formats Tagging
Facebook Unlimited albums
60 photos per album
None Width 604px JPG, PNG, GIF Yes,
with better usability
Orkut 10,000 photos
100 photos per album
None Width 800px JPG, PNG, GIF Yes

Facebook rolls out new design

By , July 21, 2008 4:37 pm

Facebook launched their new design. You can access with this URL: www.new.facebook.com

2 things I like best about this new design

1. Tabbed Profile

One profile is now broken into different tabs like that of iGoogle.

Wall, the major communication channel of Facebookers, is displayed right in the profile. Other applications are moved away so load time is saved.

Info and Photos deserve their own tabs. This makes it easier for users to track follow the information of their friends.

2. Full-width expansion

Comments

Relevance of Content and Time Saving are the 2 keys to success in the social media industry. Facebook is well on-track with their new design.

How many friends have you added? What do you do when you hit the cap?

By , July 18, 2008 11:55 pm

Yahoo! Messenger screenshot

In Vietnam where I’m living, Yahoo! Messenger is the most popular IM service. Like most Vietnamese, I started communicating through IM with Yahoo! Messenger.

In 2006, my account has reached its maximum number of friends an account can add: 300.

My Yahoo! 360, Yahoo’s blogger service also limits to 300 and I always have a hard time managing my friend list. I had to work around by configuring registry to allow multiple Y!M instances to run at once.

So my concern when registering for any social network or IM service is the maximum number of friends an account can add.

And here’s the current data:

Facebook

5,000 for Facebook. This is sufficient for me, till now.

Windows Live Messenger screenshot

600 for Windows Live Messenger. Still not enough, as my connections now have passed 1,000.

300 for Yahoo! Messenger and Yahoo! 360. I can’t live with this cap.

Gtalk screenshot

No statistics for Gtalk

Yahoo! 360plus Vietnam logo

1,000 for Yahoo! 360plus Vietnam. However, “add friend” in this service doesn’t work in the standard way since friend adding is one-way: doesn’t require confirmation, doesn’t show vice versa.

So what platform are you on? Have you reached the cap in your friend list? If yes, what have you done to solve the issue?

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