Plastic shopping experience

I went to the shopping mart to buy groceries, i am proud to say that in India we have copied the way we buy groceries like – soap, whole grains, daily bread, cookies, vegetables etc from western countries but forgot to imbibe the go green mantra, no to plastics.

Let me illustrate how we used to buy groceries 10 years back in most of the Indian cities. We used to go to a common market where vegetable hawkers, farmers used to sell vegetables fresh from their farms. Or we used to go to small street shops and buy the grains, pulses, wheat etc.

Plastic bags and shopping experience

I think people are more happy when they buy items in paper bags,the paper makes them calm.Paper carry bags looks more elegant and aesthetic than plastic bags. Then why plastic bags are more in use.Sleep on the above question.

For groceries we used to visit similar shops as shown above


Good points of the above methods of shopping

  1. We used to carry our cloth bag to buy vegetables

  2. We used to carry our cloth bag to buy groceries

Now Smart, Reliance, More etc have successfully copied the retail market from western countries very well, and it is also successful in India, but they missed the paper element in that.

When i was in UK and USA, and went for shopping vegetables, groceries etc.The stores like Sainsbury and Whole foods used to sell products in paper bags not in plastic bags.

hyenalabs-shopping experience 3

What can we do

  1. Carry your own cloth bags when you go for grocery shopping's

  2. You can even use a plastic bag for grocery shopping, but make sure that you use it many times

  3. While buying vegetables do not pack them in separate bags, use a single plastic bag to carry them.

  4. Buy from local hawkers if possible, since they give already recycled plastic bags

What retailers should do

  1. Stop giving plastic bags and use paper bags

  2. Initiate a program to return the plastic bag with some offers

  3. Reuse the plastic bags

  4. Use recycled plastic bags

What govt should do

  1. Ban use of plastic bags in the shopping malls & implement it harshly and cooperation.

If you feel that the points i am making is important, please leave a comment and suggestions

Clean interface design

I bought my new tv this year and to do this i went to different showrooms, i was accompanied by a good friend "Sankar" along. I appreciate Sankar as he is good in making decisions and gives a good analysis. One thing that stroked me, was we see many tv and lcd and finally the one which came home was a 29" inch tv with a nice controls. The controls on the tv was clean, all the ports were behind the tv, so once i play dvd the wires do not drop in front of the screen.


  “Keep it clean” is the key that makes a good UI

We almost rejected all the TV designs in which we had the dvd player port displayed in front, as it will look ugly when we have inserted the dvd cords in it. The idea is of hiding the complex controls behind. This concept i can recall is well used by successful companies like NOKIA in making cell phones. The key pad are hidden behind a slide or a flip in the mobile phones.

We should use this concept to the maximum in UI design in software's. Let me give some examples how we can do the same.


Some Tips are

1. Hide it: Hide the detail sections of the interface by using collapse and expand controls.



2. New window: Use another window to show the details, it is a common technique which is used. It is a gentle reminder

3. Tabs: Use tabs to hide different sections of the application

4. Progressive disclosure: Display the next section when it is necessary to display it, For example only show the dependable section when the user has already made a decision to use them. The below image can help in explaining the same thing. comments replies

 "Let us make the interface clean", should be the main goal in all interface designs.

Effective search design

After looking at many websites with search option in the inner pages and not so impressive way of performing search, i think posting a blog on some of the best practise in search design will be helpful to all. Let us try to understand what is a search.

Search is a feature that allows users to find the the required piece of information they are looking. If we dissect search, there will be 4 parts to it.

1. Basic search - in this the user types the keywords and he is good to go. He presses the search button and get the results.

2.Advanced search - in this the user uses many filtering options to narrow down his search efforts. The advanced search will be different for all websites as, the UI elements is dependent on the content whose search is being done. After getting the main two user flows let us see what happens when the user makes the search.

3. SERP - Search engine results page is the page that is shown to after he enters the keywords.

4. Search results Relevancy metric - I am jotting this important area as it is utmost importance whether the user got what he was looking for. Was the search results helpful to the user or not.

Working on the below 4 areas, we can make an effective search.I heard designers from HFI(Human factors international) say's usability is not enough, i want to add to it that as far as we are meeting the needs of the users and helping him accomplish his tasks users will stick to the site or software. If some one else comes with a better solution for the user, they may leave our site- the bottom line is VALUE - what value we are adding to the user's life.



Now let us get each section right.

Basic search Design

Tip 1: Focus - As soon as the page is refreshed the cursor focus should be in the search text box. This saves an extra click to the users. If there are some forms on the page we can avoid this, as there are chances that the user may be more interested to fill the form.

Tip 2: Text box length - The length of the text box should be long enough to even accommodate a phrase if the user types, the idea is avoiding the horizontal scroll.


Tip 3: Narrow down - try to narrow down the user's search efforts in basic search also. For example we can include UI elements which helps the user to decide what he is looking for and letting the search engine understand the query at a higher level. A classic example can be clicking on the maps, images or docs options in search.

Tip 4: Progressive disclosure - Make the user aware that advanced search options is available by including the "advanced search" link.

Tip 5: Auto suggest - Including auto suggest can be of great help as it makes the basic search process easier.

Tip 6: Search settings - can be a good section where user can have controls and his preferences for search.

Advanced search Design

Tip 1: Search parameters - Have a look at the search results, that will be shown to the user and decide the parameters on which they can be filtered. An information architecture of the content can be of great help to decide on the search parameters. For example - the search parameter can be file type, date published, containing the words - etc

Tip 2: UI elements - To accomplish the tasks for narrowing down the user's search, we will use different UI elements. Select the best suitable UI elements. For example we can provide radio buttons when there are 3-6 options for the user in a certain group. A drop down can be used when the options are more. This decision needs to be carried out by the designer.


Tip 3: Grouping - Group the sections in the advanced search options and group them visually. A good example is shown below.

Tip 4: Action oriented language - Use the words such as "open search results in new browser window" instead of "pop out results"

SERP Design

Tip 1: Pagination - make the pagination good to navigate, option to move to different pages is good by few clicks however user's rarely move to see the results on the last page. User usually stick to the first 1-8 pages that are shown to them.

Tip 2: Results summary - a summary of results is good to have so the user known how effective was his particular search.

Tip 3: Current page - Notify the user by "showing page 5 of 10 search results" and similar words.

Tip 4: Show similar results - There are chances that a user finds a particular results helpful and is interested to know similar results. Having an option to see similar results is good.


Tip 5: Filters - An option to filter search results in order to narrow down to the required information is good to have. For example we can include sort features that allows the user to filter the search results.

Tip 6: Hierarchy - maintain a hierarchy of information by different visual treatment to the search results heading, description and the online link.
Search results relevancy metric design

Tip 1: Try to capture the user feedback on the search results asking him wether the search results shown to him were helpful.

Tip 2: Suggestions- a forum or e-mail communication to get user's suggestions can be of great help.

I think these are some of the benchmarks that needs to be satisfied for effective search design. I agree the search engine plays an important role and tagging of keywords, however this is out of scope as this blog is pertaining to what we can do at user interface level to design a good user experience.

If you need some more suggestions, or help regarding SEARCH please send an e-mail to

Stakeholder interviews

As UX architect's and consultants we all have seen or at least heard about stakeholder interviews. In this blog i will show you how to prepare for stakeholder interviews . So let us see how we go about. Before a stakeholder interview is conducted a invite letter is prepared to send across the stakeholders. I am going to speak about the invite letter here, You will learn how to create one, send it and then conduct the stakeholder interviews.

Two types of stakeholder interviews
In person interviews - interview may last from 30 minutes to 60 minutes
Group interviews - with 4-5 people it will usually take more than 60 minutes

Lets begin

Step 1: Decide the type of interview you are going forward. If you are going with the group interview then there will be a slight change in the Agenda of the interview, the change i will explain in the below sections.

Step 2: Create the invite letter. The stakeholder interviews are done based on some questions, these questions are wrapped in a invite letter and send. A typical invite letter will have the below section. Take a word doc and illustrate the below sections and Magic happens - you have prepared the stake holder invite letter.


  • Objective of the stakeholder interview

  • Scope

  • Venue

  • Agenda

  • Questionnaire

A typical objective can be
"The stakeholder interview is designed to gather business insights form the key experts who are working with the product. The focus of the interview is to gather the business needs and user needs form the stakeholders. A set of suggestive questions will be posed and their list is at the end of this invite letter."

A typical scope can be
"The stakeholder holder interviews is totally focused on improving the user experience of the site. The inputs gathered will help us to define the persona and usability goals."

"You know what should go here - when where you are going to conduct it"
If there is a bridge booked then, mention the bridge numbers.

Agenda is a little tricky, i am giving you a example. Please mention the time zones correctely, EST or IST.....
A sample questionnaire is mentioned below. You can tweak the questions below and send this word doc to the stakeholders .

1. Define purpose/vision for the site

* What is the purpose of the site?

2. Develop goals for the site

* How would you define a successful Web site for your organization?
* What does success look like? How will you know when you have been successful?
* How would you describe the site?
* From an organization’s viewpoint?
* From a user’s viewpoint?

3. Define audiences & goals

* Who are the users of the site? (Primary and secondary users)
* How would you describe the users? (User characteristics, i.e., age, experience, education, etc.)
* Why will they come to the site? (User needs, interests, and goals)
* When and where will users access the site? (User environment and context)
* How will users access the site? (User computer settings, i.e., connection speed, resolution, etc.)

4. Conduct task analysis and prioritize tasks

* What will users do on the site? (User tasks, content, features and functionality)
* Which tasks are critical to users’ success on the Web site? (Criticality)
* Which tasks are most important to users? (Importance)
* Which features of the site will users use the most? (Frequency)
* Which features are prone to usability issues? (Vulnerability)
* Which tasks are critical to the organization’s success on the Web site?
* How often will users frequent your Web site?
* What will compel users to return to your Web site?

5. Determine measurable usability objectives

* Which tasks should users be able to accomplish easily with few errors? (Efficiency)
* Which tasks should users be able to finish quickly and efficiently? (Effectiveness)
* What level of satisfaction should users have after using the site? (Enjoyability)

6. Discuss expectations, requirements & preferences

* What is your vision of what the site should do?
* Describe your initial view of the project. What do you think the project should entail?
* What prompted the redesign?
* Who will be the key point of contact?
* Are there any restraints, mandates, or guidelines for the site?
* Are there any sites you would like to model or a particular style that you prefer?
* What characteristics/attributes/attitude should the site convey to users?

7. Determine accessibility requirements and needs

* Is the site currently accessible?
* What type of accessibility testing has been done?
* What types of accessibility tools are being used?
* Who is the key point of contact on accessibility issues?

8. Identify available resources and training needs

* What level of resources is available for site updating and maintenance?
* Do you have content writers skilled in writing for the Web?
* Are there graphic designers on staff?
* Who will be responsible for programming and maintaining the site?
* Who is in charge of site marketing and promotion?

9. Discuss initial technology needs

* What are your hosting needs?
* Do you currently have a domain name or do you need a new one?
* Are you currently using a content management system? If so, which one?
* Are you currently logging Web metrics? If so, what metrics are you currently capturing?
* Do you currently have a search engine? If so, what type of search are you using?

10. Timeline and Project Plan

Step 3: Send the invite letter.

Step 4: Conduct the stakeholder interviews.

The above composed docs can be send as an invite letter to the stakeholders. The idea behind the invite letter is to make sure the stakeholder knows what you will ask and they have clue, and if they want to do some R&D they can do and come.

Happy stakeholder interviews.