“Does it better” will always beat “did it first.”
Aaron Levie, CEO at Box
Simplicity, Accessibility & Productivity
What does one expect when visiting any website? We expect to find what we are looking for easily and in as little time as possible. We expect continuity and clear instruction when required. Simply put, we expect a pleasant experience that causes as little friction as possible to achieving our desired goals. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the best way to provide the most intelligent user experiences is to first ask the user what they want and we did. When it comes to the user experience, My City Connected’s primary objective is to create a space that stands out from other platforms in that it is built in a way that allows the user 100% control over their viewing and activity experience. On the My City Connected platform, and in addition to the user’s ability to sort their feed in a variety of presets, the user also has the ability to create unlimited custom feeds that are specific to their interests.
Because of its ability to function as a centralized work station for small businesses as well as a center for users wishing to involve themselves in activities that go beyond just socializing , My City Connected was designed to be primarily used on a desktop or laptop computer. However, detailed attention has also been given to the mobile experience. When we speak of the User Experience or UX, those who are familiar with the term must set aside all preconceived notions of what that means. As one man’s perfect interface could be another man’s nightmare ESPECIALLY when it comes to mobile devices. Venture Capitalist Fred Wilson defined this issue in a single tweet, “Mobile does not reward feature richness”. The My City Connected platform is a “Feature Rich”platform and when you have as many features as we offer in a single location, positioning access to features and activities can be difficult, but not impossible.
The My City Connected platform in all its methods of deliver be it desktop, laptop, tablet or phone follows what we have coined as the S.A.P. rule or Simple Access to Productivity. On our mobile and tablet devices we have eliminated text based links as menus until the user achieves 3rd level access. For example, prior to reaching the desired activity users are presented with large button style menus with descriptive icons which have been divided into sections of interest. Once the user reaches his/her destination of interest the menus convert from buttons to tabs then from tabs to text allowing for a uniform flow of options during exploration of the site. On desktop and laptop computers, the menu options are both in standard horizontal menu for those who prefer such and what we call the “Quick Menu”, a shadowbox popup that is triggered when the user clicks the “Quick Menu” button located on every page in the upper left corner of the screen. The quick menu provides a faster way for users to reach their destination by displaying all menu options in large button format on a screen covering shadowbox page.
Since more people are on Facebook than any other network in the world, we focused our attention there and asked people what it was about Facebook that they didn’t like. Outside of the obvious intrusion into their private worlds, (which is given to Facebook by choice) the number one dissatisfaction we discovered was its complicated space and lack of easy to locate instructions on how to perform certain activities. Facebook is most certainly feature rich and can be quite complicated to navigate for the novice. Our objective is to reduce the learning curb in all areas and to create a space where even the novice can navigate with little to no difficulty. Next in line was advertisements. Specifically, what we call force fed advertisements. This is advertisement that is pushed through the user’s news feed. Most users hate this but also understand the necessity of its presence. As far as the sidebar advertisements were concerned many agreed that they have grown numb to those and don’t look at or even notice them.
This information led to the development of what could be considered a compromise. We discovered that when it came to advertisements that are pushed through the user’s social feeds, we were told most users wouldn’t mind it if the advertisements came from businesses that they chose to receive updates from. Wasn’t that the whole idea behind following a business on social media? To keep abreast of what they have to offer? So when it comes to advertisements on the My City Connected platform members only see ads in their feed specifically related to My City Connected and from companies, organizations, and clubs they have chosen to follow. If the user no longer desires to receive information from a business the same result as unfriending an individual applies to the business entity. One click and they are gone forever, or until the user decides to follow them again. This method of allowing the user the ability to avoid unwanted advertisements applies not just to the member’s feed but in other areas of the site. With the exception of the side bar advertisements (which are limited and most people ignore anyway) all other advertisement blocks/spaces give the user the option of simply closing them or turning them off.
On the My City Connected platform we are working hard to provide our users with the ultimate experience in social networking by paying close attention to their needs. We’ve gotten off to a good start and will continue to make adjustments as our users guide us continuously toward a more perfect user experience.