Sending audios and optimizing flows | Thinking Product

I wanted to send a friend an audio message on iOS. The flow started straight forward. First, I pressed the mic button on the side of the message.

Next, I record the message.

I liked the user experience (Ux) here as it clearly separates finishing an audio, playing it and sending it. Whatsapp, for example, auto sends an audio message the moment you take your finger off. So, I can see the benefits of adding an extra step. But, however, I ran into an issue. The phone reminded me that I was low on battery (20%) and it just stopped the recording abruptly. I just lost a 5 minute audio message.

So, I recorded this again and sent it.

I realized then that I wanted to add an extra message. So, as I worked through the second message (2 minutes), I noticed that the first message had disappeared.

What the hell was going on?

So, I recorded the first message all over again. That’s when I noticed a small option to”Keep” in blue.

It turns out that the blue “Keep” is a button. And, if you don’t click it within 2 minutes, the audio message will disappear.

This can be changed in your settings. But, for some reason, this is the default experience. And, it extends to the receiver of the message as well. This friend explained that she was thoroughly confused when the memo just disappeared. As the memo included some notes that required a repeat listen, this led to a few issues at her end too.

So, what can we learn from this? The first lesson is the obvious one- we have to be thoughtful about the defaults we use. Smart defaults are critical to help users along the way. It is tiring if a user has to make every little decision and check every checkbox. But, in this case, for some reason, the product and design team decided that audio memos need to be removed by default. It is a decision that has likely caused a lot of confusion among users. And, the keep button doesn’t help matters much.

Second, and most importantly, optimizing flows is at the center of great Ux design. 

Many equate design with pretty appearances. But, users use products to get a job done – not to admire how the beauty of the product. And, when they get their job done, they win. To win, users need to flow from one action to the next.

And, great Ux design is all about optimizing these flows.