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Sunday 29 July 2007

Will someone in Yahoo please wake up...

Its good to be back after a few weeks.

Jerry Yang needs to do more than fill in for the Terry Semel. He needs to start opening his design team's eyes to its user population, especially in large markets like India.

I have been part of a very well known HCI forum in India and have seen the forum face one particular problem in Yahoogroups for the last one and a half years (or maybe more). The problem is thus:

Forum members post job ads in the forum for usability/HCI specialists. While replying, many members don't notice the default "Reply to: the group" option and end up sending their CVs to the group, embarrassing themselves and amusing their bosses and colleagues, all of whom are generally part of the group.

Then starts a bout of either yahoo bashing or blaming the members who reply thus or asking the moderator to change the settings. But nothing else happens. Members still make the mistake, as they obviously will but more importantly Yahoo never wakes up to the problem.

Doesn't Yahoo India know about this? If not, why don't their designers lurk on India's most famous HCI forum? Or is it because Yahoo India's designers don't have much say within Yahoo? Or is Yahoo sleeping over the problems of its huge user base in India?

The solution to the problem isn't all that difficult. Several options can be tried out and here are some off-the-cuff ideas:
1. Right now the "Reply to" area and dropdown are not prominent and get lost amongst the other stuff around. It could be made prominent visually with help of graphics, color, etc.
2. A dropdown might be an obstruction itself in seeing the other options and therefore an inappropriate choice of widget. Other options can be explored based on number of options possible.
3. Rather than having a dropdown and then a "Send" button, there could be both "Reply to sender" and "Reply to group" buttons explicitly located.

I am sure a few iterations of options tested with users will help arrive at a better solution than the obvious nuisance we have today.

Jerry, you'd better wake up and take notice or else forget competing with Google.