Reducing Error

The field of human factors used to be called a reliability science, rooted in reducing error and establishing consistent human performance. Now fast forward to today’s modern age of app this and app that. Nevertheless, to pay homage to its nostalgic name, I’d like to share my redesign story of the WeChat mobile application.

The voice recording function was out of whack. To record and cancel involved an awkward motion — while holding the record button, you had to swipe up to cancel the recording. If you failed this feat of finger athleticism, your recording would invariably send — Ops! Sure, the user could click on their message in the chat history and remove it, but that function is NOT transparent or discover-able (another story, another time). Or even worse, the person on the other end manages to hear it before it can be deleted.

Error-prone Voice Recording and Canceling

Through usability testing, we discovered the majority of users made errors with this task. One in particular did not notice the cancel function because they were focused on speaking into the phone.

However, the point of the matter is how do we design interfaces that avoid error altogether without having to build another function to correct mistakes?

Using the typical mental model of a recorder which naturally comes with separate and distinct buttons that record, stop, replay and cancel, we redesigned this function to provide users with greater control. With this new design, users can enjoy the replay function to ensure confidence before they send. To cancel, users can simply close the recording function to start again. Moreover, buttons do not need to be held down as in the original design which is cumbersome on a touchscreen.