Desi Hits! Mobile App Benefits from UX Consultation
Desi Hits! is an entertainment-and-lifestyle website for fans of Bollywood, bhangra music, and other elements of Desi culture. Now Desi Hits Inc., the New York-based company behind the popular site, will soon launch a mobile app that brings the site’s offerings to users of Nokia devices.
To ensure that the app would be as intuitive and easy to use as possible, the company recently submitted a prototype for a user experience (UX) consultation from Nokia. The results, say Ranj Bath, chief operating officer of Desi Hits!, were quite helpful. ‘We need to be sure we adhere to Nokia standards, and we also need to pay attention to the ways consumers want to access our information’, he says.
The term Desi refers generally to people from the Indian subcontinent, and the Desi Hits! site describes its audience as ‘bilingual, trendy, cosmopolitan, and interested in everything from Bollywood to Hollywood’. The audience is also predominantly young. Think Slumdog Millionaire, and you won’t be too far off.
To reach this virtually global audience, since 2006 the Desi Hits! website has served up a mix of music files, music videos, photographs, articles, podcasts, internet radio stations, movie trailers, and celebrity profiles. Updates are fast and frequent, encouraging repeat visits.
Moving to smartphones, Desi Hits! will provide all of those types of content to the mobile world, too. But because the mobile app runs on a much smaller screen than its web counterpart, it starts with a far simpler, menu-driven user interface.
When launching the app, users are presented with additional menus. For example, tapping Photo from the start screen shows the user a list of available photos. Once the user selects an item from the list, that photo will appear on the screen.
To the Desi Hits! development team, offering a clean, intuitive UX to Desi Hits! mobile users was vital. ‘We want our users to be able to [easily] navigate around and find the content they’re looking for’, Bath says.
The company had not performed usability testing on its earlier apps in Nokia’s Ovi Store — Urban Desi News, Bollywood News, and Bollywood Paparazzi Photos. For that reason, one of the key concepts used by the UX consultant — mobile-usability heuristics — was new to the Desi Hits! team. These heuristics are essentially criteria that are used to evaluate mobile apps. They include visibility of system status, consistency, and error management.
In the UX consultation from Nokia, the consultant applied the heuristics to identify the app’s strengths and weaknesses and to make suggestions for improvement.
Issues identified during the UX consultation were ranked in four categories of increasing severity: cosmetic, minor, major, and catastrophe. The rankings can help developers to prioritise their revisions.
Overall, the Desi Hits! app received high marks in the UX consultant’s report. ‘The application is simple, clean, and consistent,’ the report said. ‘The application has a healthy ’less is more’ mentality.’
The consultant identified a few of the app’s UX elements as needing improvement. For one, some buttons were too small for a touchscreen. For another, the app needed an Exit button. And backstepping was done from the left side of the screen, though the standard for Nokia apps is to backstep from the right. Fortunately, all the suggestions were quite easy to implement. ‘It was mostly microtweaks, so it wasn’t a big deal’, Bath says. ‘Hey, we’ll make a bigger button, OK.’ Similarly, adding the necessary Exit button was not difficult.
The new Desi Hits! app — including, says Bath, virtually all the improvements suggested in the UX consultation — is set to be offered in Ovi Store soon.