Sunday, June 13, 2004

Wireless User Experience - Lava Life Example

As part of the research I have been doing in conjunction with the company we are working on, I have been spending a lot of time using applications on a Audiovox CDMA handset using Verizon, and my Sony Ericsson GSM phone using TMobile.

I have been using my Tmobile account for over a year and one of the good/bad things about TMobile is that they have a very focused strategy. I can read the news in a mildly painful interface. I can download ringtones and pictures. I can download and play some games. All in all the 'Tzones' area is very Mac like in my mind. It has most of what you need and thats about it.

Verizon has the Brew 'Get it here' section which has a fairly wide selection of things I can do such as ringtones, pictures, games, productivity software etc.

Last week, as part of my research, I signed up for Lava Life's mobile dating application. The experience has been very instructive on how far these applications have to come before lots of people start using them. Here is what I experienced:

1. I was instructed to send an SMS to a number 25425. I was told that a welcome message would be sent to me.
2. Two days later, having not had a reply, I sent a message to 25425 again. This time a reply came to me asking me to send a reply SMS with my gender and age.
3. I sent an SMS with MALE and 39. I received a response that asked me to select a username by sending an SMS with username.
4. I sent an SMS with my proposed username and I received an email that asked me to enter the sex of the person I was looking for and the age range.
5. I sent an SMS with FEMALES 21 39 and received an error message. I sent Females 21 39 and received an error.
6. I continued this step approximately 10-15 times with the same result.
7. I send an email to technical support at Lava Life.
8. Two days later I get the following response:

From: Christine Kovacs
To: "'derrick@doien.com'"
Subject: FW: Lava Mobile (fwd)


Derrick,


I am the Lavalife Mobile product manager. Sorry to ehar you ahd a
frustrating experience. I looked into the bounced messages. Your cell phone
has some sort of auto signature set, that is being appended to all of your
text messages. I've escalated this with my mobile development team to see
if they could remove any appended text messages, so these bounced messages
would not happen again in the future.


Unfortunatelly those messages were billed 50c each. I am so sorry but
there isn';t anything I can do about them. You could call Verizon, and ask
for a credit. I would like to help but I am not sure if there are any other
alternatives that I can explore on my end (maybe somehow I can save you as a
Verizon customer from having to call and ask to have you to issue a credit.
I'll check what I can do on this end.


Regards,
Christine Kovacs
Lavalife Mobile

christine kovacs| product manager - wireless | lavalife inc. | toronto
tel 416 263 6300 x3178 | fax 416 263 6301

This is very cool. A couple of things. As I am married I don't really plan on using Lava Life anyways. But if I were I can promise you that 1. I am sure I would have never gotten this far, and 2. I would be really ticked off.

Lavalife suggested that I take away my signature and that this would solve the problem. I did this and sent a message that didn't result in an error. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten a response. I cant wait until I do. When I do, I will let you know. In the meantime, I can promise you that what we end up unveiling, will be very focused on a very good user experience.

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