Jakob Nielsen:

Usability suffers when users type in passwords and the only feedback they get is a row of bullets. Typically, masking passwords doesn’t even increase security, but it does cost you business due to login failures.

It’s time to show most passwords in clear text as users type them.

This is an interesting challenge of the status quo, and the more I think about it the more I agree with the idea.

I don’t know what the last time you ordered a pizza online was, but someone in Domino’s Pizza’s marketing and/or web department needs a raise. The site is full of completely awesome copy. For instance: when you choose toppings for a pizza, they are divided into two categories:

  • meats
  • unmeats

This is a distinction I fully support.

When creating a pizza using their ordering interface, there is some fine print under the graphical representation of your pizza. (The graphical representation is also awesome; it is a photograph that reflects as you check on toppings/crusts what your final pizza will resemble.) The text reads:

The Pizza Builder will always show a large pizza. If you choose a different size, the topping amounts will vary. The deliciousness, however, will not.

This is a delightfully snarky way to tell you that they aren’t about to make a whole bunch of different graphics just to show you what will be on your pizza. Creative.

At the bottom of the screen is some text speaking about their 30-minute promise. It says:

Because safety is a priority, “You Got 30 Minutes™” is not a guarantee, but an estimate. You may get more.

Once again, we have what amounts to normally boring copy (legal instead of technical this time), but it’s been given a human flavor and just a little bit of an attitude. There’s personality behind this web copy, something I think is very important and should be rewarded. “You may get more” is funny in a direct way.

When you place your order, you also get to see using a “tracking service” where your pizza is in the creation process, including when it leaves the store to be delivered to your house. It even includes the names of the employees responsible for their parts in the process. It adds an unmistakably personal touch to the process of ordering a pizza on a web site—which by its very nature is an impersonal process.

Hats off.

What about you? Have you ever had an experience with a web site for a store or establishment that goes that extra mile to make things feel more personal and connected? Do you prefer a formal, business-language approach, or something that’s more informal and down-to-earth?

There’s been a small flurry of Kindle 2 and Kindle iPhone activity today:

Publishers Weekly says Kindle iPhone is a good app with flaws:

First, the good: the iPhone app gives you access to all of the books you’ve purchased at the Kindle store. It also syncs to the furthest page read in an e-book, so, in theory, firing up the iPhone app will take you to the exact spot where you left off reading in your Kindle. When it works, it’s pretty slick. But it doesn’t always, and the annoyed user then has to manually thumb through pages to find where they left off. Also, strangely, there’s no search functionality.

Their final words are also notable:

Amazon’s promotion of the iPhone app as a complement to the Kindle is spot on. It isn’t the most feature-packed reader and has irritating limitations, but it loads quickly and displays text as sharply as you’re going to find on a small LCD screen. Its kinship with the Kindle will make it the go-to ereader app for Kindle users, while its extensive catalog of e-books—nearly a quarter million—is the largest available and will certainly attract users.

I think that’s about the best appraisal of the Kindle iPhone app’s usefulness I’ve seen. The application certainly has flaws. I’ve been trying it out and playing with how it works, and I also have been comparing it to the Stanza reader, which I believe is the current front-runner for iPhone applications. Kindle iPhone is either rushed to market or intentionally gimped out of the gate, because it’s missing several key features that would have made it the de facto eBook reader on every iPhone.

Continue reading “Kindle iPhone/Kindle 2: Usability”