Sunday, May 31, 2020

VoIP Provider Comparison… Part 3 – UI design

July 31, 2007 by · 10 Comments 


During this series, we’ve looked at all of the important factors that differentiate the major soft-client VoIP providers from each other. However, there is one factor that people take into consideration when making up their mind about a particular solution. Unfortunately, this factor is the least quantifiable of all: UI design.

Some people like simplicity and ease of use, others prefer complexity and hackability. To that end, this review will consist of a relative ranking on UI design. Take into consideration that this review was done on a Mac, and that client opinions will be steered towards the Mac versions (although I have played with some of the Windows versions). For those companies, such as Rebtel, Jajah, and Truphone (somewhat) where there isn’t a client so to speak, the opinion will be of the user interface on their website.

1) Jajah – The web interface is pretty straight forward. You want to be called at this number and you want to call this number. Hit dial. Very hard to screw up. You can store the numbers too, and then just click on them to dial them. Pretty easy. You can do the same for SMS. Looks nice too. The WAP version is pretty easy to understand as well. My only gripe is that I wish you could store more numbers per contact.

2) Skype – I can’t say I like their windows client at all. It seems like a UI mess at this point, but their Mac client has stayed amazingly clutter free and elegant. Things are laid out nicely, and draw attention to you when you need to, but otherwise fade into the background when not needed. For example, when you have a voicemail, there will be a number that shows up with how many messages you have, but when you’ve checked them all, it goes away. Perhaps the interface can be a bit on the overly-minimalist end of things, but that’s what I like in general.

3) Truphone – Not the most complex of the lot, but also not the easiest to use. This has nothing to do with Truphone’s efforts really, but moreso in the way the whole process is done on a wifi phone today. Truphone however, has done lots of work to simplify the process and has built some useful shortcuts to get the whole thing running more easily.

4) (tied) Gizmo Project – Gizmo, unfortunately still needs to work on their interface. It just feels amateurish still relative to Skype’s (on a Mac). On a PC, I think that it perhaps wins because it isn’t bogged down as much. However, in spite of not feeling completely polished, things are easily accessible and for the most part you shouldn’t have a problem figuring out where things are, it’s just that it doesn’t look ‘as nice’ as Skype’s Mac client. On the wifi phone, Gizmo project is easier to install than Truphone, but from a usage perspective isn’t as automated as Truphone thus it requires more effort on behalf of the user. I would say this is more a Nokia thing than a Gizmo Project thing.

4) (tied) Rebtel – Rebtel obviously doesn’t have a client at all since it dials like any other phone number, so that leaves the website. This is where I think things fall apart. First, of all, the offer on the front page, like Jajah, the ability to dial someone and type your number as well so that the service calls you both. However, once you log in, it doesn’t give you the ability, like Jajah, to call someone from a link. Rebtel just provides you directions on how to dial from your phone.

That brings me to the login process; of all the providers Rebtel is the only one that forces you to use just numbers for your password. Since like most people I have relinquished my ability to memorize things after I started using a cell phone with a phonebook, having to remember a number has made me request my forgotten numerical password from Rebtel more than any other service I’ve used before.

In conclusion, It’s hard to say that Jajah is the clear winner on this one since it is doing something different than say Skype vs. Gizmo or Gizmo vs. Truphone (wifi phones). Rebtel isn’t all that bad either, it’s just that they have some quirks that make it ‘more difficult’ to do certain things, but that doesn’t mean their site isn’t slick, as a matter of fact, it’s one of the more eye-pleasing ones. So, don’t judge any of these books by their cover, but if you’re UI challenged, give Jajah or Skype (on a Mac) a shot.

Related Chromewalker Articles:
VoIP provider comparison… Part 2.1 – Reliability

VoIP provider comparison… Part 2 – Call Quality

VoIP provider comparison… Part 1.5 – Customer Service

VoIP provider comparison… Part 1 – The costs

Gizmo Project (on a WiFi phone) vs Truphone

Fring vs. iSkoot

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