Author Archives: Usability

Community Guidelines

My blog posts are mostly based on my own experiences, so I’m interested in hearing how others’ experiences may differ from mine. Comments are automatically open on posts to create a more enjoyable experience and for more people to engage with the topic (Konnikova, 2013).To facilitate these discussion on the topics of my blogs, my community guidelines are:

  1. All comments are welcome and encouraged. Commenter’s first and last names will appear for easier identification and follow-up on threads.
  2. Keep comments relevant and read what others have said before posting the same thing.
  3. Commenters must be thoughtful and respectful of others’ opinions even though they are different from their own.
  4. Comments are moderated and will be closed if they violate any of these guidelines.


Konnikova, M. (2013, October 23). The Psychology of Online Comments. The New Yorker. Retrieved from

Ketchup: Glass vs. Squeeze Bottle

The more common squeeze bottle is what’s in most household nowadays. But once in while we will go out to restaurants and see the original glass bottle being used. You could say the glass bottle design feels more premium and stands out among the abundance of other squeeze bottles on the market. But aesthetics aside, which one is more usable?

Glass Bottle
The original glass bottle bears a slim silhouette with a small twist cap. According to Heinz, the best way to get ketchup out of the glass bottle is to tilt at 45 degrees, and tap on the ’57’ on the bottleneck.Most people don’t know this trick, and end up spending 5 minutes shaking and smacking the bottom of the bottle just to get a few drops, then a big clump comes out just when you think you’ve shaken out enough.


Squeeze Bottle
The squeeze bottle features a wider and flatter design, with an indent on each side for users to better grasp the bottle when squeezing. Ketchup is dispensed through he flip top screw cap.It’s more child-friendly in that the cap is easier to open, and the bottle won’t shatter if dropped. The amount of product that comes out can also be controlled by the user.


This topic of glass vs. squeeze bottle is an ongoing discussion. From a purely usability point of view, the squeeze bottle is more user friendly, but ultimately the choice if up to the preferences of the homeowner. However, some do say they prefer seeing the more sleek glass bottle at higher end restaurants, and others at retro diners perhaps for their nostalgic process of getting the ketchup out.

View a reddit thread on this topic.

Juicy Salif

French designer Philippe Starck designed the Juicy Salif in the 1990’s for Alessi, the Italian housewares and kitchen utensil company.

Transmedia Integration

Transmedia integration has become popular among companies to widen their reach to their target markets. The content work in harmony across multiple platforms to create a unified experience.

As I gain a steady readership on my blogs, I will expand my content to Instagram. Instagram would be my first step because relevant content is easily discoverable through their Explore tab. Because of Instagram’s image-based posts, an increasing number of creatives and designers go to Instagram to look for quick inspiration or to inspire others with their posts. This provides an opportunity for me to shorten my blogs into bite-sized content, and drive traffic from Instagram to my blog for more in depth information. Likewise, integrating an Instagram widget on my blog can direct users who are looking for short-form content on the go.

Read more: Pokemon as Transmedia Storytelling

Google Analytics

Learning how to use Google Analytics to optimize my blog was definitely confusing but interesting at the same time. It’s nice that new users of the tool are presented with a basic dashboard as a starting point so we can familiarize ourselves with what type of information we can get. I then explored further into the types of categories of my audiences.

I looked at the data for the last 30 days, and saw that majority of my readers visit my blog on Tuesdays in the late afternoon to evening. Likely because Pub101 assignments are due Tuesdays, and people are interested in other peer’s posts. This insight helps me set a time for when my posts should be up by to get the maximum amount of pageviews.

My Usability page received the most pageviews, informing me that those content are what my readers are most interested in. Out of the 46 total pageviews, 35 were unique, meaning readers visits a page more than once during their session. This tells me my content are of interest to my visitors when they return again.

Starbucks Application

The Starbucks app not only allows customers to browse and order ahead, it is constantly inviting them to engage with the company. The app reflects their philosophy of offering enjoyable and innovative experiences.

User Focused
Personalized elements can be seen right on the Home screen of the Starbucks app; greeting users by their names and time of day. It also conveniently shows user’s Starbucks Rewards program points, and how many points are needed for each reward level. 

The app stores user’s previous orders so they can easily reorder, making it even more convenient to make purchases. It also automatically finds the closest store, or users can manually select and save their most frequent stores.

Starbucks Rewards Program
Users earn two stars for every dollar spent, which then can be used to redeem various food and drinks. Starbucks keeps users engaged by constantly offering “challenges” to get bonus stars. This gamification offers immediate tangible rewards, and in turn builds loyalty as customers seek that sense of accomplishment. Users can easily track their progress throughout their challenges. If engagement has been low for a while, the app will prompt users with simple challenges to get them interacting again.

Members also benefit from free in-store refills, early member offers/events, personalized offers, and a free beverage on their birthday.

Many people might not know what they can customize in an item, or the options they have. In the app, they can explore all the possibilities and fully customize all the presented options. The one downside is that prices are not listed on the menu, but only after the item is added to their cart. This can create frustrations in users if price plays a major factor in their decision-making. 

Grab n’ Go
Starbucks was among the first to introduce mobile orders for pick up in 2015. This feature is catered towards people who are on the go, and combats foot traffic and wait times in store. Before even completing the mobile order, users are given an estimated time their order would be ready by, so they can plan ahead. It also streamlines the reward redemption process by showing if users have any points they can use toward their current order. The app recommends other products based on user’s ordering habits. For Starbucks, placing that here is a great marketing strategy, and provides a sense of personalization for the user.

The approach to mobile is very saturated now, and Starbucks’ success comes from their dedication to understanding their users and what’s most important to them.

Peer Review #3: Food With Anita

This week, I got to review the marketability of Anita’s blog Food With Anita. It seems like her target audience are people who are unfamiliar or are interested in what to eat in Vancouver and Richmond.

Anita wanted the layout of the blog to be “[simple] so each post could be easily noticed,” I think she did that well with clear page naming in the navigation, and on every page. The blog is further simplified with the use of a mainly black and white palette, with a secondary colour of light blue. However, the overly simplistic layout doesn’t reflect the colourful and enthusiastic attitude Anita has towards food. The simple layout provides an opportunity for Anita to use her vibrant food images to entice readers. I noticed only the first few blogs have feature images of the food she reviews, that would be very helpful for readers in determining whether they would want to read further about the restaurant. Especially if they are new to the area, it would be easier for them to scan through the images to first find what type of food they are interested in, instead of having to read each post.

Home page of the blog.

Anita also has very beautiful food images, and should use them more often! I especially like the grid layout on the ‘Home’ page, I can easily see what type of food she blogs about. From there, I already want to click to read further about them. Unfortunately, they are not linked to their respectful posts. If it’s possible, linking readers directly from the home page can generate more engagement and ease of use.

Anita’s food posts are succinct, with clear headings to break up each section of text. She describes the location of the restaurant and even tips on how to get there and parking. Her personal review of the quality of the food could help long-term readers determine Anita’s tastes in comparison to theirs; thus building a strong relationship of trust. The menus are also included so readers can figure out if the place is within their budget, without having to search elsewhere.

Anita ends her posts linking her Instagram account that’s under the same name. This is a great way to drive traffic towards that platform, since that’s been active for more than a year prior to her blog. Anita could also link her blog on her Instagram account to drive her more long-term readers to her blog, where there are more detailed content than on Instagram.

The placement of her social media icon is odd at the top left corner of the navigation bar, because that’s where people would usually find the site’s logo. The clickable area is also very small. Since Instagram plays a big role with Anita’s online food presence, it should be placed somewhere more prominent. I would suggest having a sticky Instagram widget on the side bar. So readers can get a glimpse into the content of her Instagram, and be enticed into engaging with that platform. Furthermore, Anita can increase the shareability of the posts for readers who are exploring the city with other people, by including share buttons. By having content accessible outside of the website, it increases visibility and can increase website traffic.