Showing posts with label UX in Ghana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label UX in Ghana. Show all posts

Monday, May 11, 2015

What Yahoo! can learn from a kelewele seller

Yahoo! says Flicker isn't available in Ghana
 Naa Merley is one of the earliest Kelewele sellers in her neighbourhood.
She enjoyed a greater share of the market until other Kelewele sellers began operations in the same neighbourhood. Naa wasn't disturbed because she still had customers loyal to her 'brand'.

Then reality hit.

Customers were patronising other vendors who had both kelewele and groundnuts for sale. They no longer bought Naa's kelewele, as it meant they had to go to another place to get the groundnuts.

The above scenario is what Yahoo! is facing. As a Yahoo! Mail user in Ghana, I am able to download and use the mobile app, but then I'm surprised I can't download and use the Flickr app -- Yahoo! says it's unavailable in Ghana.

I. Don't. Get. It.

If I can use the web versions of both services in Ghana, why can't I equally use the mobile apps?
Yahoo! Mail App is ready to be installed.


Customer retention is based on value being got out of using a product. If Yahoo! is really looking at gaining popularity and usage for its photo-sharing app Flickr, it has to make it available in countries -- like Ghana -- where photo marketing; local content creation using pictures is gaining ground.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Zoobashop experience

Cursor H-Series 5050W
So I've heard of Zoobashop from friends a number of times, and decided to try their services.
Zoobashop is an online shopping website launched in 2013, that makes it easier fro customers to have access to products online, and make purchases, which are delivered to them. Less hustle.
I created an account on their page, and ordered a Cursor H-Series 5050W.

It was a smooth ordering experience, and I had a number of options in paying for the item.
I chose to pay via a bank account of theirs.
As I live outside Accra, I had to pay extra for delivery.

Zoobashop's LOG IN page for registered users

However when I was tracking my the delivery, I didn't like the experience of logging back into my account (As a registered user). On two successive occasions, I hit the Register button instead of Login because of the placement of the buttons.

I think I would have a better, enjoyable experience, if the Login button was placed on top, or even to the left (if both buttons are placed on the same horizontal line)

What has been your experience with online shopping websites/platforms in Ghana?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Chale, where (did) my credit go?

Mobile Data under Phone's Settings


Mobile internet bundles have contributed to the low patronage of Internet Cafes in Ghana. The other 'culprit' in this regard are the modems from the telecommunication networks.
Inasmuch as these mobile bundle services have increased the convenience of users, a number of grievances still abound.
A trivial one has to be with 'stolen' credit when users buy credit vouchers and find out they can't bundle data because 'they don't have enough credit units'.

Really?

Take my friend Kofi, who bought a GHS20 worth of  Vodafone airtime the other day. He loads it onto his phone, and enters the short code to begin the bundle process. All goes accordingly until the final step, where he chooses the bundle that he wants (1.6GB), and is told he has insufficient credit.
Surprised, he checks his balance and realises it's GHS1.99456! He starts cussing.
Chale, where my credit go?

I'm sure we've experienced this before. I know I have.

I approach Kofi and ask him if his mobile data is on. With confusion drawn on his face, I take his phone from him and show him the mobile data in his phone's settings page. In other phones, this is simply known as Background data.

His mobile data was on, so I had to explain to him how leaving the data on before recharging airtime isn't a good idea. You see, once your mobile data is on, it allows apps on your mobile phone to access the Internet in the background. This uses your airtime.

Kofi was grateful for this hack that I showed him.




Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Challenge: Re-orienting the learning approach

As a Ghanaian who studied in Ghana, I've gone through an educational system that lays premium on passing exams and getting degrees, and cerificates -- what I call A4 sheets.
This system is still dominant, albeit there's a fresh breath of forward-thinking institutions, and individuals who realise that it's skill and ability that determine the output of an individual, and not a piece of paper.
In my (still young) academic life, I've met students who have no clue why they are in school.
For most, so long as they can get a job, they are okay.
No identified problem to be solved. No wonder most researches undertaken by students towards the award of a degree are next to 'useless' in terms of practically solving a problem.
The classroom environment is one that sees lecturers teach students what to think, and not how to think.
Chewing and spewing of facts is the norm. Understanding concepts is simply unwelcomed.
I am frustrated.
I need help in re-orienting the teaching/learning approach being used in our educational system.
I was privileged to be involved in the teaching of the Human-Computer Interaction course last semester. The first couple of classes made me realise how I had to explain almost everything on the PPTs I was using.
Note: The textbook on which the PPTs is based, and supplementary texts have been given to the students.
So the next lecture, I informed the class I hadn't read the book and so implied I wasn't ready to teach effectively.
Surprisingly, I went through about 6 slides with VERY little questions from the class.
No discussions.
That changed the next lecture because they had actually read and researched, and a wholesome diacussion took place.
I also tried using twitter to engage the class. That didn't go well, but it's a start.
Also, the students a practical assignment in training their eyes on products around them and their designs.
Thanks to Astrid, my boss Patrick, Richard, Kajsa for their advice, motivation, and believe in my ability.
There is hope.
I'm really opened to suggestions on to effectively engage my students and get the best out of them, and the courses I may teach.
Please share your tips, tricks in the comment section.
Thanks.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Preliminary study: Social Commerce growth in Ghana

Photo: Social Media Today
The growth of social media in Ghana has grown in the last couple of years. However, it is not clear how the phenomenon has influenced buying and selling online. What online vendors use their social media accounts for is not clear. The features required of an e-commerce website that would attract and retain the Ghanaian online shopper are also not well documented.
I therefore conducted an empirical study to investigate the influence of social media on the growth of e-commerce in Ghana. 

Some questions I considered were:
  1. To what extent are online shoppers aware of e-commerce vendors in Ghana?
  2. What features of an e-commerce website attract and retain an online shopper?
  3. How long have Ghanaians been shopping online?
  4. How long have Ghanaian e-commerce vendors been selling online?
  5. What types of e-payment solution s are being used by vendors in Ghana?
  6. What e-payment challenges are faced by both vendors and shoppers?
  7. Has social media had an impact on the sales revenue of online vendors?
Deductions from the results show that a great number of Ghanaians are active on social networks, with accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, YouTube, Vine, just to name a few. Most of the respondents accessed their social network accounts via their computers. However, a growing number of them are doing so via their mobile phones (and hand held devices like tablets/phablets), which supports the assertion that mobile phone revolutions are on the increase in Africa (Jidenma, 2014) – and that Africa is a mobile only continent (Shapshak, 2012). This also indicates a great potential for the growth of mobile commerce (m-commerce).

Most online vendors use their social network accounts for advertisement (sales promotion). This supports the assertion that online advertisements would overtake traditional print media such as catalogues and magazines (Takahashi, 2011).  They also use it for raffles and competitions, where customers are rewarded for their loyalty. It was also observed from the study that little (or no) trend analysis is being done by online vendors. This doesn’t really look good as it would be difficult for such vendors to understand their customers and thus satisfy their needs fully. A small percentage (50%) of vendors also use their social media outlets for lead generation (i.e. mostly start-ups).

The study also found that electronic payments are a challenge to both Ghanaian shoppers and vendors online. The blacklisting of the country by PayPal is a worry, as there is no ‘formalised’ platform electronic payments can be made on. Newer platform such as mPowerPayments, Everzero, Ozinbo Pay, are yet to get the needed patronage. As late adopters in the online payments market, Ghanaians have their reservations, and would rather employ tried and tested platforms like PayPal. Security is a great concern and a challenge for online shoppers. Such shoppers are worried of the standards being followed by Ghanaian vendors in ensuring secured transactions.

Other challenges being faced in the e-commerce market space in Ghana include vendors’ wish for a solution that would make it less expensive to ship outside Ghana. As shoppers, the slowness of the internet is a major challenge being faced. Also as most of the identified vendors are located in the capital, Accra, delivery and pickup is another challenge faced by online shoppers.
On the issue of whether social media has influenced the growth of e-commerce in Ghana, both online shoppers and vendors are equally found on both sides of the continuum. This means a lot more work needs to be done, by vendors mostly, in leveraging social media to market their products and services. Also such networks should extend their e-commerce capabilities to African countries, to enable their users enjoy such benefits. This would go a long way in increasing the revenue of online vendors.

The study has shown (however premature it may seem) that social media indeed has influenced the growth of electronic commerce in Ghana. Though it is in its infancy, e-commerce has a bright future with the alternative of using mobile money as a means of electronic payments. The trend of Ghanaians having mobile phones and using them for online activities sets the tone for mobile commerce implementation in the country. Further research should be done in finding a solution to leveraging mobile money on the internet such that online shoppers can pay for products and services via their smart/feature phones.

NB: I had a handful of respondents for this study, especially vendors.
If you are a vendor, please take this survey.
If you buy online, please take this survey.
Thanks.

Do not forget to add your thoughts on this phenomenon via the comments section.


REFERENCES
Jidenma, N. How Africa’s mobile revolution is disrupting the continent. http://edition.cnn.com/2014/01/24/business/davos-africa-mobile-explosion/ Retrieved on 12th April, 2014.
Shapshak, T. Africa not just a mobile-first continent – it’s mobile only. http://edition.cnn.com/2012/10/04/tech/mobile/africa-mobile-opinion/ Retrieved on 30th April, 2014.
Takahashi, D. Internet Ads Finally Surpass Newspapers. VentureBeat, April 14, 2011.


Whatsapp group: A User's take

Screen, when I re-installed the app in Feb 2014
When Whatsapp came onto the tech scene, a lot of folks were glad they could 'swerve' SMS costs with respect to sending multiple messages to their contacts.
Believe it or not, a number of users (still) do not know that Whatsapp uses the Internet.
They've not 'swerved' costs after all. Hehe
Sending of information, however, has not been this convenient, prompt; effective -- and in real time.

The whatsapp group feature
This is the latest craze in Whatsapp usage, with users forming groups (of up to 50 members -- updated to 256 members since 4th Feb, 2016) based on common interests and relations.
In as much as this feature makes the sharing of info among peers fast and efficient, it can be annoying sometimes (or almost always) when some regulations are not laid down.
One very effective use of the Whatsapp group feature is the one, Ashesi University lecturer, Kobby Graham had with his class. A very good use case.
Yes, we are entitled to freedom of speech and expression, but some people go way overboard with the sharing of 'irrelevant' content.
Some of tips for effectively being part of a Whatsapp group:

  1. Do share messages that are relevant to the group's objectives. If the group is just for friends having fun, well, then I guess your chargers should always be close by.
  2. Reading long messages on Whatsapp can be daunting. Do limit your messages to a maximum of ten (10) lines.
  3. As a group, decide on times to share information. This can be productive. Random postings can be distracting and annoying. Again if it is a group of friends, and you want to avoid distractions, mute your Whatsapp notifications.
  4. If it is a group where discussions on social, political, religious, or any other kind of issues are held, do MAKE sure to confirm your facts before sharing. 
  5. Do be sensitive to the feelings of others when sharing information that can be emotionally destructive. An example is the current pictures, audios, and videos on Whatsapp about the Castro incident. Just unfortunate!
  6. Do not indulge in a conversation with a group member, on the group's page. Kindly chat privately with the person, and stop disturbing other group members with your convo.
I had a chat with a very good friend of mine, Rafe. We discussed our experiences with tech gadgets and apps. It's our mini techRepublic we've been having since 2005.
An idea that he came up with is a feature in Whatsapp to allow users choose which contact they would love to get a message from. Cool, huh?

I will like to.hear your experiences with Whatsapp groups and what you think can be done to enhance the user experience.
Let me have them via the comment section. Thanks.



Sunday, February 2, 2014

Duolingo -- an effective language learning app!

Learning a new language can be very stressful -- more so when the study of the language is undertaken outside the natural environment of the language.

There are a number of apps that try to make the learning of languages fun and interactive: Babbel, and Rosetta Stone.
However, one app I have fallen in love with is Duolingo. It has both mobile and web versions.
Its fun as you play while you learn. You have three(3) hearts at the beginning of every lesson, and you lose a heart, when you get an activity wrong.
I love the fact that there's a new button that breaks sentences into separate syllables and is very useful for beginners.
It's a whole mix of visuals and text.
Check out these snapshots from my phone:

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Mobile apps in Church?

Switch OFF Mobile phones!
The above sign is a common one in Churches nowadays. This has become necessary as mobile phone users disturb proceedings at Church with ringtones and other notification tones.
However, the ever increasing popularity of smartphones and mobile apps such as Bibles, make it difficult to enforce the 'switch off mobile phone' warning.
It is common now to hear Pastors say, "Turn your Bibles with me to ...", and find some members of the congregation rather 'querying' their Bible apps for the quotation given.
I should state here that, the Bible-app-querying trend does not happen (a negligible percentage do though) in the Catholic Church as the congregation do not read the Bible in Church, but rather listen to a Lector.
Now, the story is different in Catholic Churches, with the advent of the Catholic Hymnal mobile app. Some members of the congregation -- predominantly the youth enjoy singing hymns on their phones.
I asked some users why they enjoy reading the Bible on their phones and singing using the mobile app, and the commonest response is that, it is convenient. Some don't like carrying the 'heavy' paperback Bibles and hymnals. Another reason for convenience is that, most can't locate books in the Bible if they are asked to, so the mobile app comes to their aid.
Yes ke!
A pastor at one of the Churches I visited told the congregation, "Your phone is not a Bible, stop showing me your phone when I ask you to show your Bibles!"
Others do not like the idea of using these mobile apps inside the Church because of distractions. The thing is, some of the Bible apps that are out there (like YouVersion) require mobile data (access to the internet) to function. Once your mobile data is on, and your Auto Sync functionality is also on, you find notifications popping up, as and when they are received on your phone. This can distract the individual (the Church would only be disturbed if your sound profile is not silent).
A couple of tips on using mobile apps in Church:
  • Do turn off the volume on your phone. (Your sound profile should be silent)
  • Do switch off your Auto Sync feature so you do not get interrupted by notifications from other apps like Whatsapp and GMail.
  • Download Bible apps that do not require access to the Internet to function. Some examples are Olive Tree, Word of Promise apps.

Personally I don't think singing with the mobile app is a bother. I only pray for self control and discipline for users.
By the way, do you know the Catholic Catechism has been developed into a mobile app? It's in Italian now. Other language translations are coming soon.
I will like to know what you think about mobile apps being used during Church services. Do comment on this post. Thanks

Friday, November 1, 2013

Vodafone does listen, no?

In an earlier post, I shared my frustration with the bundling of mobile data on Vodafone Ghana's network.
Last week, after trying to bundle 400MB worth of data -- unsuccessfully (sigh), I realised that my call credit (¢10) had 'disappeared'!
Surprised, I phoned the call center and was assured by the (male) attendant that a report would be made on the incident.
It. Never. Was.
The following day, I phoned again and a female attendant helped me. She also assured me of making a report on the incident -- and she did.



The report was to have my call credit refunded, but it wasn't. I therefore sent a follow-up e-mail.


That worked, because I checked my credit balance later and voila -- full refund had been made!
This rekindles my appreciation of Vodafone's customer service; I pray they continue.