Showing posts with label user experience. Show all posts
Showing posts with label user experience. Show all posts

Saturday, April 12, 2014

My language. My identity

Recently a number of my friends ask why I LOVE to engage my online connections with my local language -- Ewe -- quite frequently.
I. Just. Do.
I have been doing it since I became a netizen, but it was mostly in Twi, and sometimes in Ga. The Ewe language (and indeed most Ghanaian languages) has some unique fonts that the 'normal' PC keyboard doesn't support -- yet.
So what chaged and made it easy for me to type in my beloved local languages? Kasahorow.
Kasahorow is a project of the GhanaThink Foundation that seeks to bridge the langage learning gap. I love them. Do download their keyboard for PC and Android.
I was able to write arguably the first blogpost in Ewe (in Ghana) with their android keyboard. Hehe
I see this country moving forward by loving our languages and incorporating them in  our apps to improve productivity of our countryside folk. I made a case for local user interfaces in this post. I look forward to a YouTube revolution of Ghanaian videos having subtitles in the local languages.
Do let me know how your experience goes.

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.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A case for 'local' user interfaces?

The tweet above got my attention. Most folks in Ghana still enjoy SMS and those with smartphones enjoy text-based apps like Whatsapp. (Do note that Whatsapp now has voice-enabled input functionality).
From the convo on twitter, one realises that my friend is concerned about folks who cannot read English. I am however of the view that, a great majority of such folks can read in their local tongues.

A suggestion for developers who wish to design text-based apps for non-English speakers can be to use an API from Kasahorow. This would afford them the flexibility of using local languages.
However, another cool approach for developers looking forward to implement text-based apps, would be to use voice in place of text.

When it comes to using visuals, a lot of work has to be done to come out with better metaphors. This is because I've been contemplating how User Interface designers (in Ghana -- and Africa) could come up with icons that are 'local' enough to be understood and appreciated by their users.

Is this necessary, though?

What would the icons be like? A basket instead of a shopping cart? An earthenware bowl in place of fork and knife?
Well, as I've stated, more research needs to be done to really get a hang of this. An argument will be that the world is a global village, no? But what of the 'local' folks?

Forgive me if my thoughts are not 'falling in place' now.
I'm an enigma to myself.