Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lunch Time Usability

In the office we get to order our lunch over an online ordering system. The system's web site generally works well and has its faults like many other web sites.
However there is one very annoying matter that I go through every time I log into the web site to order my lunch. It is just one simple checkbox that implements, not 1, not 2, but 3 usability mistakes.

The checkbox appears on the log-in page and it is intended to allow the user to set if the log in details should be kept for future access or not.
It starts well. On the log-in page the checkbox suggests to "Save Login Details".
If you choose to keep your login details you simply check it. Clear enough.
The next time you access the system the problems start.

Inconsistent Functionality
On a consecutive access you get to the same page and the checkbox changes its description and functionality to "Disable auto login". Imagine how many users, just like me, clicked the checkbox again, thinking their previous update did not stick and actually undoing their previous setting.

A better way to handle this matter is to simply keep the previous description and keep the checkbox checked. If one wishes not to keep one's details anymore one should simply uncheck the checkbox. This suits the basic mental model of undoing a previous setting – "I turn a switch on and later I can turn it off". In the current design "I turn a switch on and then I need to turn another switch on in order to turn the previous one off"…. Oh lord….

Redundant Walkthrough Page
The erroneous checkbox suggests "Auto Login" though no automatic log-in is done in this case. If I choose to keep my log-in details then why do I need to go through the login page every time I access the web site? Why not get logged-in automatically and be directed to the secured section already logged-in?
Implementing automatic log-in sequence would also eliminate this ridiculous "disable" checkbox.

Double Negative
My first blog entry related to the problematic double negative checkboxes. This "Disable Auto Login" checkbox is another example where the user needs to uncheck (a negative action) a negative action (disable).

What Should be done
Simply do what all other secured web sites do. Have a checkbox of "Remember me" and once checked the user is always directed into the secured part without going through the login page.

It is simple as that.

Until it this annoying checkbox is fixed, it would be better for me to avoid this checkbox by simply walking a few yards and get lunch myself – This would be a win-win situation. Maybe it would be better if the checkbox will kept as it is so I will get more time outside the office.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The unbelievable lightness of Mobile Development

With the privilege of experiencing future releases of uniPaaS, I got the early opportunity to start and extend the Live uniPaaS RIA Demo for mobile devices.

The uniPaaS RIA technology managed to amaze me twice. Once, seeing how I can produce world-wide available application while developing in the same way I am used to in developing Client\Server applications. Twice , when I saw that with the same ease of development I can now produce very complex mobile applications.

Actually, in producing my first Mobile application, I did not do much development. I simply restructured the UI of the regular RIA demo and with not much additional effort I transformed the RIA demo into a Mobile RIA demo.

The small screens of the mobile device suggest a different approach for the application UI design. In my case, turning the big Order Entry screen to fit the mobile device ended up by just breaking the screen into parts and placing each part in a tab control.
All the logic I defined before was kept as is and it is now executed fully when running the program from the mobile device.

This video clip illustrates the Order Entry screens and Today's Orders screen on the mobile device.

The image below shows the order entered by the mobile device as it appears on the regular, stationary live RIA demo.

I expected our Mobile support to be such that will provide easy and rapid development, but I really did not expect it to be that easy and rapid. What a treat…