Archive for July, 2006

Usability Enhances Our Usage Experience of Software

Saturday, July 15th, 2006

Usability considerations are becoming very critical since Internet applications are becoming more mainstream and are being used by increasing number of people who are not IT-savvy.

Poor usability leads to irritation and fatigue, even if users do not articulate their feelings. It has an adverse impact on the usage experience. In an on-line shopping web site, it can lead to loss of revenues. Poor usability of business applications leads to increased help desk costs.

On the other hand, better usability enhances our usage experience and can increase productivity. A highly usable on-line shopping web site tempts repeat visits, builds customer loyalty, and increases its revenue-earning potential.

My article on this topic was published in TECHNOLOGY EVALUATION, a leading evaluator of enterprise application products. Click here to download this article (http://www.sketharaman.com/ARTICLE – Usability – v1.1.pdf).

From the time I wrote this article two years ago, usability is becoming ever more important. Watch this space for a follow-up article.

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“Understanding Culture & Society”

Thursday, July 13th, 2006

In December 2004, I had written a couple of letters to the editor to “The Economic Times” and “The Times of India” related to culture and society.

These letters are still relevant and you can see them here.

How Mobile Phone MP3 Players Have Changed Lifestyles

Sunday, July 9th, 2006

I saw a news item saying US album sales were down 4.2% in the first half of 2006, but sales of music downloaded online soared 77% during the same period.

I think MP3 players in mobile phones have changed lifestyles and have contributed a lot to this trend, though this is not a view expressed in this article.

Many people who were fond of music in their younger days may realize that marriage, family and kids have drastically reduced their music listening habit. When you have to play a cassette or CD in your living room system, you are often restricted to only playing things that are liked by the rest of the family. Automatically, this reduces the time you listen to music. You can always carry your favorite cassettes / CDs with you and listen to them on a portable cassette or CD player e.g. Walkman / Discman. However, that’s a lot of stuff to carry around for most of us.

Enter mobile phone MP3 players. People tend to carry their mobile phones everywhere. Without anything more to carry, they can listen to digital MP3 music if their mobile phones have an MP3 player. This leads to entirely new possibilities and almost re-introduces music into people’s lives once again. Now, people can listen to music on their commute between home and work. If their mobile phone has the so-called “flight mode”, they can switch it on in this mode during a flight to listen to music. My mobile phone, an already-outdated Nokia 6230, came with 40MB of memory. At less than 3K INR, I could add on a 512MB MMC memory card. Now, I have a collection of around 50 songs that I can listen to anywhere, without worrying about whether it disturbs the rest of the family or not. I’m sure the latest handset models come standard with 64MB or more, so that you can store more tracks without incurring the cost of additional memory cards.

Now, how do you upload MP3 music into your mobile phone? If you buy a CD, you need to first rip it into MP3 in your PC, before you can upload it to your mobile phone via USB cable or Bluetooth. But, if you download digital music from various websites, you already have the tracks in MP3 format ready to upload to your mobile phone. Surely, it saves time to get your music as online downloads rather than buy CDs.

As websites selling online music downloads proliferate and as prices of mobile phones that include MP3 players increase, the trend in favor of online music downloads is bound to increase.

In the near future, we might see the day when online music sales overtake music CD sales!

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Will Google Toolbar kill typed-in traffic?

Monday, July 3rd, 2006

There is so much buzz around typed-in traffic nowadays.

As per anecdotal evidence, up to 15% of search engine pay-per-click (PPC) advertising traffic comes from typed-in traffic where the search engine company (e.g. Google) shares its advertising revenue with the owner of the typed-in domain name. By reducing typed-in traffic, it is obvious that the search engine company gets to keep more of the advertising revenue to itself. Recently, one has been reading about Google entering into an OEM agreement to bundle the Google Toolbar with every Dell PC.

When the dots are connected, one wonders, will Google Toolbar kill typed-in traffic?

This is the subject of a recent article in the website www.freewebtoolbars.com.

Click here to read this article.

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