Hi, I’m Brian Dys — a photographer from the inside looking out · a composer entangled in electronic music · a UX designer · a spouse, a parent, & everything in between.
Recently, the design team is conceptualizing on a new Chikka Text Messenger branding.
As you very well know, the phone and mouse icons aren’t up with the times already. Mobile phones have shed its antenna and keypad; the mouse, well pretty much some still look the same.
What is Chikka Text Messenger?
Chikka Text Messenger or CTM helps Filipinos abroad communicate thru SMS with their families and friends here in Philippines (PH). Basically, if you’re abroad, you text your mom (in PH) thru CTM app using Wi-Fi or data then she receives it as plain SMS. But if she’s also using CTM app and is online, then she receives the text thru the app like instant messenger.
The Balloon Ear
We started the branding redesign by this square icon:
From here, I simply extracted the message balloon. The resulting icon, also shaped like an ear, embodies communication from end to end – you speak and the recipient listens and vice versa.
I still want that information
I could have been well within my wits to simply use Google Search but the immediate thing I did was to search for the word “hackathon” using data.gov.ph’s Search Form – that’s why it’s there, right?
There, I saw the title of what I was looking for as the second result – #KabantayNgBayan.
The link took me to another page with yet another link.
Hoping to “learn more” about #KabantayNgBayan, I followed the link to http://beta.data.gov.ph/news/kabantayngbayan-hacking-national-budget which turned out to be worse than a 404.
Now I already knew where the real page was upon hitting that Server Not Found (thanks, Google Search). But we should expect more from Government websites to provide us with the information we are looking for – immediately.
Let me itemize the things that must not be experienced by other users – be it those looking for hackathon information or those looking for more important information on Philippine Government websites.
Could Be Better
Hackathons are like sleepover without the sleep – in a workshop with only cardboards, glues, and scissors as your materials and you are expected to come up with a rocket ship to relocate Philae to a sunny spot. Overnight.
But the websites hosting hackathons shouldn’t appear as if it was done in a half-hackathon event and launched. Think of UX Event websites that actually do not understand what “UX” means.
- The Missing Hackathon Page. Open Data Philippines hosts its 3rd Hackathon event and it seems like there are more to come yet nowhere on its homepage you will see that there’s a hackathon initiative (except for the ever-changing carousel and news articles).
- The Search Forms on the Homepage. Having two search forms is confusing already though the second one is clearly labeled for searching data, the main Search Form at the header also searches for data (not news or other content).
- The Quality of Search Results. Since the Search Form on the homepage isn’t working, I used the Search Form on 404 page. It gave me the impression that the information I was looking for was elusive – I couldn’t expect that the top results would lead me to the “right” pages.
- Create a Hackathon Page. Like I mentioned above, Open Data Philippines might as well make a dedicated page for its hackathon events as a whole. Even better if the official page has compiled the recent hackathon news, then I might not even need to use the Search Form.
- Rectify Broken Links. Nothing is more frustrating than going through several steps in searching for information and arriving at a broken link. Either remove the link to the non-existent information or put a content in the link.
- Improve Search Engine Results. It is great that there’s a site Search Form despite the fact that on the homepage it searches only for data (seems like simply a bug) and on the 404 page it is out of alignment (easy to correct). But Search is only as powerful as its results. As someone who is looking for “hackathon” on the Government’s website, the results must come out to be about hackathons in general or the latest hackathon initiative.
- Maintain an Old Page. This post started with a simple link: http://data.gov.ph/hackathon. It seemed perfect to contain hackathon initiatives of Open Data Philippines especially that it was once a live link. If it must really be taken down, at least either maintain the page with related links to the hackathons or redirect it to a new related page.
It’s true that this is a simple case of a broken link (or a user who opted not to use Google Search). Besides, I already found what I was looking for. But this scenario has proven to me that there’s a lot to improve regarding how the Government publishes and maintains information on its websites – not to mention when it comes down to searching for it – will the user find what he or she is looking for immediately?
Previously, I’ve discussed a class naming convention in the form of:
In this manner we are using a UI State class located up in the DOM tree – particularly in the
body to manipulate different UI elements under it.
Take this as an example: in a site’s header, both the main navigation and search form are located.
<header> <h2 class="accessible-name">Header Content</h2> <nav class="main-navigation">…</nav> <form class="search-form">…</form> </header>
What benefit do we get in having a global
class located higher in the DOM tree? It lets us control different parts of the UI depending on the site’s or app’s UI Type or UI State.
It is important to reserve the highest element you can put a class on – which is
html (for pertinent class names), thus, the second highest element we could attach a
class attribute to is
Going back to our example, we would use the following UI State class to define the state of the search form:
body class, in words, translates to “The UI State of the Search Form is Active”.
Now, whenever the search form is active, you can already manipulate the main navigation based on that state.
Take a look at the demo on CodePen:
What is Infomap?
Infomap is a spinoff of information architecture – it is a small part of it and is specifically for the usage of designers in creating Interaction Diagrams (basically a diagram of wireframes showing interaction; details on this in the future).
What is the purpose of Infomap?
It helps in setting up the environment for the web product’s navigation and content structure.
What are the requirements in creating an Infomap?
1. Purpose of the web product
2. Business goals
3. User goals
Basically, a Product Requirements Document (PRD).
Stages of Infomap
Let’s use a Messaging app as an example – basically it allows the user to send and receive messages to a recipient; the app also requires the user to accept the Terms & Conditions before usage. For the sake of simplicity, let these be the only functions of the app.
1. Content Inventory
- List down the features, components, activities, tasks, actions you could extract from the PRD – preferably on pieces of paper that you could easily rearrange. In the given above, you might list down the following: Terms & Conditions Content, Terms & Conditions Acceptance Action, Read Messages, Compose Message, Input Recipient, Send Message, Receive Message, Delete Message, Forward Message, etc.
- Group those that belong together in an activity and label the groups. In the content inventory, we could find three groups namely, Terms & Conditions, Messages and Recipients. These group labels could act as the component names that you could use anywhere like class names in CSS.
2. Content Mapping
- Categorize the grouped content inventory into two Views: Entrance and Home. For processes that require a user to do something before using the app – that falls under Entrance (e.g., the Registration process or the Acceptance of Terms & Conditions).
- Determine which of the components have secondary functions – they will be converted to links (i.e., instead of the components presence, only its link will be there and it will have a separate view). In our example, under Home the primary component is Read Message and since others are secondary, they will be links.
- Links must be categorized under primary and secondary (basically, primary links are important to the main function of the product and secondary links are helpers or informational in nature).
That’s it – as for the other views, every link must have its own View (so that your views will be: Entrance, Home/Read Messages, Compose Message, etc.)
All in all you must end up having the following:
- Primary Links (must include the link to the View it belongs to)
- Secondary Links
- Entrance Components & Links
- Home Components & Links
If you’re travelling to or from Metro Manila, expect the rush hours of 7 to 10 a.m. and 5 to 9 p.m on weekdays. Your usual question before going must be, “How’s the traffic?”
Here are several ways to be informed of the traffic conditions if you really want to go with the flow (or not).
While using a big computer…
Hosted in Interaksyon.com, I personally find the Line View the most useful of all views – with its linear presentation and color coding of traffic levels, you could easily see the reds.
In case you want to see for yourself if a particular area is jammed, there are live traffic monitoring cameras available for online viewing.
Upon reaching the site:
- press “View All Cameras” button (located on top) to activate the play button then
- press play for a specific area
Note: Currently there seems to be a bug if you try to view an area on its own page (this will happen if you don’t press “View All Cameras”).
To avoid wasting time standing in long lines at MRT3, check out the situation first via Live CCTV. Sometimes it’s better to take the road than to take the train.
Below the main view of the camera are the other views such as the North/Southbound ticketing and platform areas.
For other roads and streets not listed via Metro Manila Traffic Navigator, there’s Waze. It relies on its mobile users to report the road condition at their current location. So you could be warned if there are scrupulous traffic officers hiding under a bridge and even find out if there’s saklaan sa may kanto.
While using a connected mobile device…
Metro Manila Traffic Navigator
It only takes a minute or two to check the status of the roads you’re taking when travelling somewhere. If you’re well-informed, you could save time and even contribute to lessen the influx of people/vehicles in a common route during rush hours.
I’ve written a short piece on how UX is already rolling here in Philippines, especially in our government.
Personally, I am keen on working on projects that will affect people positively – they could be information or service-oriented web products.
It’s simple to be like them – they simply
- provide resources and guidelines on how to implement improvements in daily government activities and processes and more important than this is they
- provide access to the information people need or would search for
A step at a time, we could reach the level of developed countries in terms of how they value UX in the government sector.