A random collection of things that inspire, interest and trouble me
from the world of design, politics, art and culture.

Natural language

Posted: February 7th, 2011 | Author: ktcita | Filed under: language, user experience | Tags: , , | No Comments »

I was recently requested to write a review on Qype of a B&B* I stayed at in Italy. I was impressed with the manner in which Qype asked me for my review: “write as if talking to a good friend (in front of your mother)”. This prompt for more ‘natural language’ was a friendly way of making sure that Qype reviewers are not tempted to write in an overly formal manner. The Qype content, therefore, remains friendly, open and approachable.

Qype review text

text on Qype asking for review in natural language

*it’s a great B&B btw if you are ever in the Lecce area

Poor banking service

Posted: April 12th, 2010 | Author: ktcita | Filed under: Experience design, service design, user experience | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Yesterday, when doing some much needed filing, I realised I only like one of the services my current bank provides for me: the pre-punched holes in my bank statements. Other than that, Lloyds TSB have been appalling bad with their service.

This is not an uncommon story with high street banks such as Lloyds. A 2008 study into UK consumer satisfaction with banks found that credit unions and co-operatives scored better with consumers than did the large retail banks (JD Power, 2008). Perhaps this is because personal customer service seems to be a key selling point of the smaller organisations. What Lloyds, and all of the other high street banks need to realise is that good customer service is the key to their business, especially if we are to believe that more people will tell of a bad experience than they will of a good one (Howcroft, 1991)*. Read the rest of this entry »

Good language is part of the experience

Posted: April 11th, 2010 | Author: ktcita | Filed under: language, user experience | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

There are plenty of great examples on the web of how companies use certain styles of language to brand their customer’s experience. This is one I came across recently in on Pattern Tap: an irreverent take on the usually boring ID process that doesn’t, I think, take away from the seriousness of the sign in process. Perhaps it would not be appropriate say for a company with an older audience for whom carding might be a long-forgotten experience, but for a younger audience, I think this language is spot on.


I am working on a job at the moment that requires a user to sign in before redeeming loyalty benefits. The problem is that the  company’s standard sign in is dry, and completely lacking in any of the character that the company is known for.  I am hoping to get a chance to talk to those responsible and urge them to vamp up their sign in process a little.

A break in transmission

Posted: January 18th, 2010 | Author: ktcita | Filed under: Blog, events, information design, user experience | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Apologies for the severe lack of posting. I have started a new job and just can’t seem to find the time to blog. I hope this will settle down in the next couple of weeks.

I am also enjoying attending design events in London, something I didn’t have the chance to do when living in Reading. Last week I went to St. Bride’s Library to listen to Paul Stiff and colleagues talk of their research into 19th century information design. They are looking at how people used to read information for action, a difficult task as it is not the kind of reading that many people have written about. There is a related exhibition at the library full of timetables, maps, tables and forms.

The ‘indicator’ map below is part of the exhibition. I saw this in a class given by Michael Twyman at Reading University last year. The tape measure is used to find any street with accuracy. Note the numbers along the sides of the map and the lines that would be used to line up the tape. Lining up a set of numbers listed after a street in the index would allow users to find the street.


Next week some UX folks from Google are speaking at a UX UPA event at the Truman Brewery. Very much looking forward to that. You can read more about that event on the UX UPA Eventbrite page.