Challenge 12 of 52: Cheese Powder Packaging

Few weeks back, Mr. Haris Faizal come to me for some business advice. He's also one of RoketSMS early customers. His product is an instant Cheese Powder and below is his current packaging.

So, what are we going to do with this packaging? Mr. Haris aims to double his sale and design is one of the area to be tackled. He reported that a number of grocery shops rejected his product because of the lackluster design.

Changing the packaging from simple plastic pack to box is too expensive for him so we need to work around the sticker. The current design is too cluttered so the first thing to do is to bring some visual hierarchy to the design. Lower part of the current design looks like a mass of nonsensical text due to the use of same font size for all type of information. The instruction, ingredients, distributor information and expiry date is all jumbled up together.

The obvious thing to do is to make the Ingredients section smaller because it is there just for compliance sake. Focus should be given to the instruction because there lies the value proposition of the product. Consumers are buying convenience here so the packaging need to sell how easy it is to prepare the cheese dip.

This is further reinforced from customer frequent question which is do they need to cook it on the stove? Actually, they just need add hot water. Thus, the instruction should be made crystal clear and hightlight 'Just Add Hot Water'. Also, change the name of the product to Instant Cheese Powder for good measure.

Challenge 11 of 52: Error Handling in RoketSMS

As a designer, we usually fall trap into two kind of oversight. First, what we thought was important is not important to the users. Secondly, things that we thought will not go wrong will go wrong in the hands of the user.

I think I've sorted out the first oversight last week so this week I'll drill down the second oversight. As the designer of the web app it seems really obvious that the message limit is 160 characters and you need a valid phone number to send the message to. So, during my tests I skip over these two scenario.

Then come real users and the errors crops up. The problem is that error message given by the system is unhelpful. The error is the same no matter what causes them - either a crashed database or simply an invalid phone number. This causes distress to customers especially since they stand to lose precious SMS credits.

The top two error is that the message is too long and invalid number. There's two ways to manage errors; first is to prevent the error from happening and secondly give more helpful information. One is proactive while the later is more reactive.
Preventing the first error is straight forward. Just put a character counter and disable the send button once the limit is crossed. For the time being I ask users to check character count at

For the second error, a delivery report function should be implemented. This will help users to identify the faulty record and delete it.

Another week, another challenge completed. I think I'm going to look into food & beverages in the coming weeks.

Challenge 10 of 52: New Features for RoketSMS

Double digit! At last! Alhamdulillah, still managed to maintain the momentum. Now, I'm almost 20% through the project.

RoketSMS have started to have paying customers. Most are strangers that come from FB Ads. Only one is a friend that pay in person. After they had been using it for a few weeks, I emailed them to vote for new features to be included in the next version.

Many replied the survey promptly and here's the result for the top two feature request:
  1. Contact groups
  2. SMS customization
So, I get to work and design the UX for version 2. For the contact groups I decided to implement via tabs since that's a familiar approach for anyone that use modern browsers. Certainly it will suitable in a web app.

As for SMS customization, I decided to reduce the probability of error. Rather than introducing markup codes to be inserted manually by the users, it will be easier to choose from a drop down menu. This will reduce error probability and saves us from adding a preview function for the time being. 
Looks like my hypothesis about user requirement is off the mark. Rather than TinyLetter for SMS, it seems they wanted GetResponse for SMS. All and all, it's good to have paying customers and helpful feedbacks,

Next up: Error Handling design

Challenge 9 of 52: Pedestrian Bridge

Every week, the source of inspiration for the assignment keep changing. I rarely read physical newspapers these days but since my father-in-law regularly buys them so I still stumble upon it. An article few weeks back clearly grabbed my attention.

The headline screams "Need for pedestrian 'map'" and "Pedestrians fear for safety on deserted bridges". Furthermore, the image featured shows a familiar sight - the pedestrian bridge that connects from Ampang Park LRT to The Intermark. I saw it every time I exit the LRT to get to the virtual office space at Troika. 

So, let's address the complaints highlighted in headlines. First, "Need for pedestrian 'map'". I don't know why the journalist put air quotes for pedestrian map. It is a legitimate map, even though it is for pedestrian use and not for drivers

I decided to check out the newly opened Jaya Grocer at The Intermark and buy a head of Iceberg Lettuce. My starting point is the Ampang Park LRT and end at level 2 of The Intermark. There's a sign pointing to Doubletree by Hilton at the start of the route. Seems good, but unfortunately that's the lone sign I encounter along the way.

Since I've been to The Intermark, it's not a problem for me to get to the supermarket. After buying the lettuce, I immediately head back to The Troika. There's no signboard on the way back either. In fact, I saw a tourist asking the security guard for direction. 

The solution? Well, just draw up a map and print it out! Show the route and the landmarks. Here's my sketch below.

With the first complaint busted, let's move on to the next one - "Pedestrians fear for safety on deserted bridges". How deserted is the pedestrian bridge? When I went to the supermarket, there's hardly any people and I can count them with my fingers. However, on the way back it's a different scenario as it's already lunch time. Throngs of workers ply the bridge in both direction to go to eat. There's definitely good food on both side of the bridge.

Deserted bridge
During lunch hour
So, the real complaint is that the pedestrian bridge is deserted outside peak hours (eg; start and end of office hours, plus lunch hours). As I stated earlier, there's already a security guard stationed half way along the route. That helps a bit, but not by much.

A tourist asking the guard for direction
What really qualifies as deserted? In the documentary Urbanized, a space of 100m by 100m is the maximum dimension that is comfortable for human cognition. Bigger than that, it is perceived as too wide open and invites a feeling of vulnerability. 

The route is L-shaped and each side is roughly 50m long. Thus, it is only 50m by 50m - half (or is quarter?) of the said maximum area. Perhaps, this perception is relative. Compared to other spaces around the bridge it is by far the widest expanse of area. 

The solution? One option is to divide the lane with signboards - it can display maps or advertisements. At least it will cut the perception of vastness on one side of pedestrian field of vision and bring it to a more manageable level.  A more expensive option is to enclose the bridge with tinted glass similar to the one that link KLCC to Pavilion. It's a longer route but didn't feel quite as vulnerable as the Ampang Park - The Intermark route. 

I'm looking forward to next week as it will be the 10th challenge. Personally, seeing the number cross over to double digit is a great breakthough. It also meant that I'm almost 20% through. 

If you have any product, service or outlet that need some UX insight, I'm glad to offer a free one hour consulting and feature the proposed solution in this blog. Just email me at for further info.

Challenge 8 of 52: Laptop Repair Service

[L-R] Mr. Edzwan, Mr. Syahrudin & Mr. Ifwat during our Business Model Canvas coaching session
This week I had the chance to meet Mr. Edzwan, one half of Dr It's a laptop repair company originally based in Bandar Baru Bangi before moving to Ipoh. He attended my Business Model Canvas coaching and we discussed the Channel block in detail.

Typically, most customers come personally to the shop with their broken laptop. This limited the scope of potential customer to Ipoh City and surrounding area. Few are willing to courier their broken laptop and those who are willing didn't know the best way of securing their laptop for shipping.

Currently, they suggest the customer to find bubble wrap or egg cartons to pad their laptop. However, not all customers have the time to find the packing materials. Furthermore, how to establish stronger credibility to earn enough trust for potential customers to send in their broken laptop? If they are able to do that, it will expand their scope of potential customers nationwide.
Inspired by Zappos, I suggested that they provide packing kit to provide convenience their customer. Their customer can bank-in a minimal amount of money first and receive a package complete with bubble wraps and a sturdy box to secure their laptop. To step it up further, they can also provide pre-paid waybill to make it even easier to ship the laptop back to the repair center.

The goal of this User Experience re-design is to reduce friction and resistance for customer to move from Evaluation phase to Purchase phase. Less resistance means increased conversion rate for the business and increased revenue. This re-design also will convince that the Delivery phase will be a reassuring experience for the customer.

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