An App Shouldn’t Waste Users’ Time

It was 10.30 at night. I was with my wife, children, and my mother-in-law. I was thinking of getting a taxi from a taxi stand at Vivo City – Singapore, when I saw a long queue. I assumed it’s gonna take around 30 minutes to get a taxi. To save time, and we’re already very tired to queue, I opened a Taxi Booking app on my iPhone. The app searched for ‘my current location’, and it gave me ‘My current location’: 66 Telok Blangah Road – Harbourlights 098830. There are no other choices, I expected it to be like some other app I saw, who gave me some choices of my current location, or nearby locations. It only gave me one, but there’s no Vivo City words in it. Vivo City is a mall, it should say ‘Vivo City’ for my current location, so I thought the location that the app gave was wrong. I tried to manually enter my location, I typed ‘VivoCity’, but then the app gave an alert “Address in invalid. Please try again.’
That’s it? No suggestion? I let the app searched for my current location again, and it gave me ’66 Telok Blangah Road – Harbourlights 098830′. Same as before. I thought “Ok, it’s the same address, so it must be the right address.” So I booked the taxi.

Usually it just takes 3-5 minutes before the taxi came, but this one, it’s more than 15 minutes, and the taxi had not arrived yet. The app has a nice feature: Locate taxi. I chose Locate Taxi, and the taxi was there shown on the map, near us, but it was at the opposite street, 300m from us. I was confused, and my first thinking was that the address must be wrong. And it was wrong. The good thing was that the driver called me (I’ve been registered as a member, so my name and number appeared on a screen in the taxi), he asked where I was because he’s been waiting for a few minutes. I said “I’m at Vivo City”, and he said “I’m sorry, but I saw here your address is 66 Telok Blangah Road.” “No,” I replied, “I’m at Vivo City.”
The driver said “ok,” then he picked us in 10 minutes. So I waited for about 25-30 minutes to get a taxi.

“A computer shall not waste your time or require you to do more work than is strictly necessary.” -Jef Raskins

Since that day, I never trust the app to set ‘My Current Location’ automatically. I remember one of the laws of user interface design by Jef Raskins: “A computer shall not waste your time or require you to do more work than is strictly necessary.” The app was wasting my time for sure.
There’s another important aspect of a good User Experience: trust. I don’t trust it anymore, because I trusted the app to help me with the location, and it failed me. It might be a different story if the app gave me some choices, and let me decide my own location, so the blaming didn’t go 100% to the app. Or even better, they should improve on the search result, and give me relevant results based on my search term and my current location (or nearby location).

What do you think?

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