Tuesday, 5 September 2017
I was assigned to critique Airfrov (Group 9).
A. Summary of what the presenting team said about the application that you think is most important. Focus on three points and explain why you feel that they are the most important points.
B. What are your thoughts?
The three points most important to me are: the "bad", suggested improvements, and key learning points (iow, what they learnt from their research on Airfrov).
The presenting team first gave an introduction to what Airfrov does. Airfrov is a web platform for non-travellers to purchase items available exclusively overseas from travellers who are, or are going overseas and can purchase those items in-person.
The team then moved on to "the bad". There were three main "bad" features of Airfrov, according to the team. The main criticism was on the appearance (UI) of the app.
Firstly, there seems to be too much information on the website's home page. The introduction to Airfrov's purpose and benefits for users clutter the page with loads of text. To better illustrate the clutter, I have a screenshot below:
Secondly, the team claims that there is too much white background / space. An example of excess white background / space could be the following screenshot:
Last but not least, the presenting team criticized the choice of colours (pale and unattractive) for the website on the basis that it is essentially an e-commerce / marketplace platform and ought to follow the established e-commerce platforms like Amazon, which use flashy colours.
The presenting team then suggested improvements for the app. There were three improvements mentioned. Firstly, the bullet point was "more abstraction needed from users' POV". It means users should be given a more simplified UI (less text, for example). This improvement targets the first "bad".
Secondly, the presenting team felt that the platform should have social features that encourage customer and traveller interaction. An example of such a feature could be instant chat/messaging on the platform.
Last but not least, the presenting team suggested improving the UI for the "price offer" (not sure of the exact phrase) pages, as they have shown that the pages were uninformative, with only a single button to enter the amount to offer for the potential product in question.
Finally, the presenting team mentioned some key learning points discovered during their research on Airfrov. The only learning point which I recall and can put into words is this: The team observed that there are people who want to earn extra keep, and there are people who are willing to pay high prices for items that are exclusively overseas, and these lead to a large profit margin, part of which Airfrov can benefit from.
Thanks to the presenting team, I managed to learn about such an interesting business idea and how technology plays (yet another) big role in it (:
My thoughts will be broken down into two parts, the UIUX critique and the feature request critique. I will talk about my thoughts about the presenting team's points, and add in my own points and other observations.
Firstly, I cannot agree with the presenting team's critique on the UIUX (the "bad"). First, the landing page was cluttered with the introduction and seemingly irrelevant content (irrelevant to purchasing) because the user was not signed in. This could mean the user is a first-time user (like me), and he/she needs to read on to see if Airfrov is the right platform for him/her. What AirFrov could have done is to make sure the white text stand out more, as the white text is the definition of Airfrov. Screenshot below:
The screenshot looks like it has captured the white text in the picture very well. But in reality, it is a carousel that rotates. The last two carousel image and description refer to more advanced features like "I WANT THIS TOO" and secure payment. I feel that those two carousel images would not have played any part (i) convincing new users to join, (ii) alert current users of such cool features, as users would have scrolled down before the carousel reaches the last two alerts. Users generally scroll up and down.
Furthermore, I felt that having "excess" white background / space is not the problem. The problem would be more of alignment. In the example screenshot above for the Post Request form, the page has already fulfilled its purpose as a form. There are placeholders to guide the user along the form. However, it seems weird that the form is aligned to the left, and directly below the icon on the left. It could be a design choice. But the form looks good on mobile, except...
The portrait screenshot is a screenshot on my Samsung phone, while the landscape screenshot is a screenshot on my laptop (same as the one above, but reproduced here for ease of reference). On my phone, there is no way I am going to know what that pencil icon by itself can do (it collapses the form section). In my opinion, I prefer a collapsible that is more visibly marked (like a solid rectangle, for example, this), so that I know where to click, where to tap.
Last but not least, I felt that choice of colours was not something to criticize. (Screenshot reproduced below for ease of reference)
It does not have to be a flashy colour that stings our eyes. What I felt could improve the seeming "plainness" or "whiteness" could be just changing the border to one with a darker shade or shadow and clearly define a boundary between each product card. Below is a simple experiment to darken the box-shadow. The original opacity was 0.2, and I max-ed it up to 1.
We can see the difference between the product cards and the categories card on the left (which I did not edit). But oh well, this could be just a matter of preference and taste. A light box-shadow will look as if the image literally got slapped on top of a white canvas without clear borders. Someone in the comments section may beg to differ.
Now for the features part. I agree with the presenting team's argument on text clutter, even though I feel that the landing page should still have some sort of introduction for the not signed-in users. But then again, it could be because I am the only lazy person who refuses to read the information (after being spoon-fed with lots of analyses by the presenting team). Personally, I hate the carousel for the not signed-in users. It not only confuses me, but also distracts me (I end up not reading the text properly). A two-column or two-row banner would help emphasize the duality of this app (catering to both "peer buyers" and "peer sellers").
My memory is slowly fading away, and I remember less and less about Airfrov. I shall sign off now. I hope to hear your comments on my critique, and perhaps correct me if my memory has already failed me. Thank you.