Ever since I’ve had a wife – my only one – from the advertising arena, I’ve developed a keen eye for commercials & hoardings. If you’ve been in Mumbai in the last month or so, there is no way you have missed the myriad of Housing.com banners extending for miles. Touching emotions is the magic bullet to successful campaigns in the Indian market. Housing did just that, and I feel it succeeded. But when I visited the portal, I felt it lacked the means to realize the dreams the hoardings had shown me, albeit a slick user interface.
Here is what I thought would’ve helped kick-start the #LOOKUP journey and rationalize the emotional appeal.
Following, appreciating & criticizing change is so important in this fast moving world. Changes, especially those to internet products, is what Product managers should be keen about. One should spend time understanding 3 aspects about any product: changes, what’s good & what’s not. When it comes to internet banking, there are a ton of players out there and I know that you can’t get a sneak peak into all. And looking over the shoulder when someone’s using Net Banking is criminal. But you can always ask your friends for a tour of internet banking account (what are friends for?) with greater focus on features & design, and lesser on the numbers $$$!
Anyway, the point is that I’ve had the chance to look at quite a few online banking portals, of which AXIS stood out and had something to be written about. Somewhere around Diwali last year, AXIS Bank introduced a great new feature called NetSecure that ties your account to a computer via a special password (over and above your login & transaction passwords) which has remained unmatched. In December, they revamped their internet banking website which was otherwise constant since the UTI Bank era (Until mid 2007 AXIS Bank was called UTI or Unit Trust of India Bank). Trust me, when compared to a host of competitors (see below), this portal is a unique blend of style & a de-cluttered interface; an overall WIN in terms of the features, usability & design. Here’s what I loved, with some suggestions at the bottom.
1. A clean header that is in line with the branding (unlike the ICICI website that can be confused with the RSS portal). Another bank with excellent, consistent branding is Saraswat Bank: pleasant colors that looks great everywhere: from leaflets to hoardings to their website.
As is evident from several posts on my blog, I am a total food freak! I am also a regular burrper. I have written several valuable reviews at Burrp and also received written appreciation from Burrp. A couple of months back I was thinking of copying food review from Burrp to my blog. Since that was going to be tedious, I went looking for a RSS feed from Burrp. It was sad they don’t offer it, but I wrote them my feedback. Now I was left with no option but to think out of the box!
And then the Web 2.0 enthusiast in me came to life! I had been using a service called Feed43 to process several feeds and remembered that it allows creating a feed out of any page on the internet. I checked the HTML source code of my Burrp profile page to find that reviews were quite structured in terms of markup. So why not let Feed43 read out the page and create a feed for my reviews? This way I won’t have to copy anything manually. Moreover, whenever I post a review to Burrp, it will be available on my blog in less than 6 hours (that’s the refresh rate for free feeds at Feed43) Continue reading Get updates from any web page via a Feed43 RSS feed→
Last week I stumbled upon this amazing service called Google Transliteration that can be accessed through a bookmarklet (jargon explained at the bottom). You can use this to type in one of the Indic languages in any text input box on the internet! (whether it really gets saved depends on the website 🙂 ) Language currently supported: Arabic, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Persian, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu & Urdu.
After reading this post, one my valued readers questioned the utility of this service! And this is what I wrote back:
Few years back acquiring Indic fonts, and learning to use Indic keyboard layout was a challenge. Google eased that with a web service which takes away reluctance to reply in local languages.
With such a service, an application developer need not provide for transliteration as a feature (its a feature in Gmail). Creating a database with double-byte storage is enough to record input in any language.
Also, Transliteration can help people understand how words are pronounced when they are familiar with a different script. However, this may not work when the same word is spelled in multiple ways. eg. Mohammed [Read more]
With CJV languages, transliteration will often yield only an approximate result.
After uploading a few pictures last week, I spotted the ‘Add Name Tags’ link on my Picasa page. I knew this had to do with mapping faces to people, but what I had wrongly assumed was the simplicity. It took me less than a couple of hours to map about 2500 faces. I thought of sharing the accuracy of the tool & conditions that baffled it.
Unlike Orkut, where you have to mark faces yourself, Picasa automatically extracts faces. It took less than 5 minutes to extract some 5500 faces from about 3800 pictures. Another differentiator in the approach is that instead of mapping many faces on a photo (like Facebook, Flickr, etc), faces from many photos are brought together to be mapped to a person. This is what really saves time & effort and retains interest. Statistically speaking, atleast 60% of all my photos (about 1800 Nos) feature one from my family of four. So in the ideal case, I will finish mapping 1800 photos in 4 clicks instead of 3600 clicks (assuming 2 faces per photo). That makes Google what it is: not just an applications company, but a technology company.
I don’t know if people tagged by me will be suggested a priori to others in their photos.
The tool started off with my photos, possible because the count was the highest. I showed me about 12 full sets (x16) of my pictures. A couple of photos in the first set were quite old – about 12 years back. Soon, it started suggesting my name for all my photos.
I had heard Steve mention Microsoft’s interest in the search arena, but he hadn’t said too much – not even revealed the name! Soon I heard that Yahoo Search had given way to Bing, and Microsoft was making money from it. Today I spared some time to get my hands on to Microsoft’s newest product, the Bing decision engine to check if claims are true. Continue reading Review: Bing – Search & decide!→
While reading collaboration & social networking, I realized that this domain features a brand new ‘wave’ of products. Products that will take collaboration, communication, mash-ups and mobility to the next level. And ultimately replace email! Shocking, ain’t it? I started believing it after checking out the Google Wave demo. Wave is set to launch in September while Shareflow, with lesser jazz, is already available. Continue reading New Wave of collaboration!→