Get help is an application that our previous 3216 batch did, after reading their description, I found it a quite interesting application to talk about.
Functionality and Interface:
The problem that this application tries to solve is that when people need help, there are few people among their friends who own the skill to help. Their application provides an online platform to connect people together through social network, thus having higher chance to find a person who helps. This application’s functionality is largely based on an assumption which is after they make a connection between people, things will work out. Let’s assume this to be true first in order to proceed.
On the every page, there are a lot of buttons, some are on the top left, some are on the top right, some are on the right. It appears to me messy because buttons are everywhere. The developers try to squeeze a lot of functionality inside one page. This affects user experience a lot because functionality should be organized in a systematic way that the user spend least time in finding them.
An interesting observation is that they allow every need to have an icon. Why does a “need” need an icon? Icon is a way to customize, and people also like to customize. However, people use this application is not because they want to customize their need and make their need attractive, they want to solve problems and get things done, so this functionality I would say is unnecessary.
They also allows user to choose a specific person for help, then why they don’t directly contact the people? The main usability is to help user find a person who can help, if they already know who can help, this application may not seem attractive to them.
Also, by default “post to all friends” and “ask a specific person” are both selected, every time users have to cancel one of them. Users don’t like that.
As shown in project page, they allow user to comment, help, refer a friend and wish good luck. “Wish good luck” button is better to be called a “like” button because you can wish everyone good luck but you don’t necessarily like them 🙂 Refer a friend function I think is good because it carries the main functionality of this application.
Overview page contains other users’ help request, which doesn’t match the name “overview”, it’s better change it to “Friends’ need”.
Is this application engaging?
Whether an application is engaging or not depends on two simple things: is it useful? is it fun? This application is more towards useful side. However, do people really want to help? I believe there is a limit in how voluntary a person can be, yet this application is largely volunteer based. Therefore, busy people will not want to help because they don’t want to stop what they are doing and spend time helping someone who he may not know. Not busy people also don’t want to come to this app because it’s not fun, so we expect the majority of the users to be those who need help. They have a need so they come here. However human’s nature is such that we want to fulfill our own need first before help fulfilling others’ need. The application may result in a “deadlock”.
The use of game mechanics saves the application a little bit because its effect is very limited. People only have a few special skills. Even though they have such skills other people may not need them. It is rare to find a match, so people will on average have a low score. If their scores are low, they loss interests in continuing it. Game mechanics must be designed in such a way that users with low scores can gain scores easily and users with high scores can gain recognition or awards. This makes a game continuous.
We can make this model more attracting by adding in financial rewards. People don’t do it for free, user must pay to get things done, this doesn’t sound good for an individual but it’s healthy for the whole model. Honestly, I think if people need something that don’t want to pay to get it, they don’t really need it. 🙂
Overall people need help but sometimes they can’t find anyone who can help. This is a realistic problem. It’s true for me as well, but I prefer to go directly to my best friend GOOGLE! Google already connects people who need help with people who own skills, therefore social network’s advantage is not really at its connection but its locality. People can come together and do things, this locality advantage is what we should look into more. 🙂