Phone usability

Yesterday I wrote about some usability problems with cellphones. As I am exploring the functionality of my new phone, I have run into some more small usability problems.

Yesterday I already wrote about the fast access button asking for a confirmation. The reason they did this was probably to provide the user with an easy way to configure the fast access buttons. The moment I use the fast access button, a screen appears asking me whether I want to start the selected function or whether I want to modify the function linked to the button. Though in general it is handy to have the configuration option close to the functionality, in this case it definitely gets in the way. If I have to confirm the action each time I use the fast access button, the access won’t be that fast anymore!

Another thing bothering me with many phones is the hassle I have to go through to send a SMS message. After writing the message, I have to go through the following steps to send it to somebody from my phone list:

  1. The first screen asks me directly to enter the phone number to send the message to. Since I (and usually many other people) only send messages to people from my address list, I press the fast access button that brings me to my address list;
  2. In the address list, I search or browse to find the right person and press Select;
  3. If I have stored more than one phone number for this person, the phone lets me choose the number I want. Icons show which kind of phone it is;
  4. The chosen number appears again for verification. Since I am not so good in remembering phone numbers, I always choose OK here;
  5. Finally, the message is being sent…

Usually I need a minimum of 7 key-presses to send my message. If you compare that with how easy it is to write the message —T9 is great—, you can only come to the conclusion that something is going wrong here.

Maybe this set-up is useful for some people, but I assume that most people are like me, and almost always send messages to people from the phone list. In my opinion, the procedure should be the following:

  1. The first thing to show should be the phone list. If I want to manually enter a number, I can use a fast access key;
  2. After selecting the name from the list, I would like that the message is immediately sent to the number listed in the mobile field of that persons details. I can imagine that some people would like to see all numbers for that person to choose from, but for me that won't be necessary. They could make this configurable;
  3. After that, the message is being sent...
Jeroen Sangers @jeroensangers