Mail to hobbyking

From Technologia Incognita
Jump to: navigation, search

Apr 19 20:51


Before you read on: THIS IS NOT A SUPPORT REQUEST. But i do not know where to mail this. I would appreciate it if you would forward to anyone able to look at twelve (12) issues i found with your service/website and might be able to do things about it. I would also greatly appreciate a reply about how my comments have been recieved or are appreciated or not. Thanks. You can skip my introduction and proceed directly to 'Issue 1' below if you want to get up to speed with things. Also; CAPS have been used below as emphasis; not as screaming or shouting ;)

I'm a recent fan of R/C , a tech-enthousiast and all-round computer/electronics nerd.

I've just come into the world of R/C and am _very_ glad that I found a service like the one Hobbyking provides in assisting me in my new hobby.


As an employee at an internet-service-provider, I cannot help but wonder and groan at some of the issues I run into when I try and use your site(s) to put my orders together.

Every so often, I bump into something new and unexpected that leaves me utterly bewildered and shaking my head.

Now; I'm someone who believes in making the world a better place; not just for myself but for others too. Next to that, I always take the premise of 'Do not assume malice when it can be explained otherwise'; so for these reasons, after weeks of thinking 'Someone should really fix some of these issues.....surely, this can't be meant this way!', I'm now going to take the next step and bring my concerns to those who can do something about things: you, the HobbyKing crew.

Please; do not take my comments, moans, whines, gripes, etc. as an attack. Your site is *loaded* with items; the collection of stuff you guys sell is utterly glorious and it's inevitable that keeping such a collection, across multiple warehouses/etc , must be a nerve-wracking experience to say the least. Yet; i feel that some of the things that I bump into as a user are things that could be dubbed 'Low hanging fruit': things that cannot but annoy a LOT of people, but should be quite easy to fix.

Without digressing further, I here present a list of things that I bump into and provide suggestions as to what should/could be fixed. Some are surely just bug-fixes; some doubtlessly require much more system-logic adjustments.

Here we go:

Issue: 1

Desc: The currency selector on the bottom left-hand side refers to the HOME page of the site.

Problem: Unlike the 'Language' selector, the 'currency' selector takes you away from the page you are viewing and refers you back to the homepage of the site. This means that whenever you want to figure out what those silly US-Dollar things actually cost in your region/warehouse, you lose what you were looking it.

Fix: Implement the reload/refresh that the 'Currency' selector uses to work the same way the 'Language' selector works. I can switch languages without changing which page i'm looking at! Why should currency ?

Issue: 2

Desc: Currency localization seems to be incomplete and seems to not be saved with profile

Problem: When switching to any other currency than USD, it becomes painfully apparent that a LOT of the functions of the site are entirely NOT responding to what currency you selected. The first obvious examples are: - The offers on the homepage - The prices offered in the search-results - The prices listed in 'My History' - The total order-amounts listed in my order-history - etc etc.

Fix: Really, this makes shopping for *anything* a great pain and should be fixed. It becomes hard to compare prices this way; let alone to figure out what they cost you in your own currency. Eur <-> USD isnt even that hard; I pity people with more exotic currencies having to deal with this. It also needs to be stored with the user-login.

Issue 3

Desc: Links to tracking-pages are cumbersome to use

Problem: In the orders-history screen, the list of orders placed previously all contain a link to a tracking-code site belonging to the particular transport-service employed. However, when clicking on the link, it becomes apparent that the link only leads you to the tracking-site but does NOT pre-fill the tracking-code into the offered web-form; nor does it simply link to the correct result-page that you'd end up in when filling it in yourself. Of course; you can cut-n-paste it yourself; and in fact , you'll need to, or type it in yourself. However, try and do this with any mobile device like a phone or a tablet and you'll find that this becomes an almost impossible exercise because the tracking-number ITSELF is a LINK and thus is impossible to SELECT with just TOUCH-gestures. Even on a PC with a mouse, it's tricky to cut-n-paste the tracking-number reliably. Normally, I end up with a couple of leading spaces at the front that end up over-filling the web-form that I need to cut-n-paste it into; resulting in having to switch back/forth between the pages to get it all right.

Fix: This, really, should be a simple thing to fix. There are multiple approaches and depending on the tracking-site policies, you can choose any of the following below: Option A - Simple and will always work: - Provide the tracking-CODE as NON-link - Provide the link to transporter-site as a link; preferably with the NAME of the transporter/service used

Option B - Nifty but might not be available for all trackers: - Provide tracking-code as NON-link - Provide named link to transporter/service but try and pre-fill the form in some manner; this depends on the API of the transporter's landing-page and thus might or might not be possible for each of them; Fall-back to A if not available

Option C - Ideal: - Provide tracking-code as NON-link - Provide named link to transporter/service but point directly to the END-result page of the tracking-service. Unless the site filters on REFERRER-sites, this should be possible by simply figuring out what the URL is that their own form generates. Milage may vary; fall-back to option A ..

Issue 4:

Desc: Switching warehouse-location redirects to HOME page

Problem: like with currency, changing warehouse-location redirects to homepage instead of a page containing info about the product at YOUR warehouse

Fix: complex, see point further down the list; Issue 6

Issue 5:

Desc: All discussion, rating, files, etc is local to WAREHOUSE-specific item

Problem: when trying to figure out which things to buy for your new project , it's always handy to go through the reviews and comments given by the other people using the site. They give hints about which motor/prop/esc combinations worked for them, what considerations there are about the quality, which other things are also needed before they can be used, etc etc etc.

However; since items exist in multiple 'warehouse locations' and are *seperate* items in the database, for most of the items listed in warehouses other than the GLOBAL/INTERNATIONAL one, all forms of comment, files, reviews, etc are entirely absent; making you have to switch between the local/international items with all the problems related to that (see below)

Fix: Complex, See below: issue 6

Issue 6:

Desc: Single items having been made into seperate items because of warehouse-location, resulting in complicated buying-decision-making. This is a combined point with MANY issues.

Problem: This is a tough one; both to describe but also to fix. I understand the challenges surrounding this issue on your side but am going to name it as one of my top issues as it made my shopping-experience entirely nerve-wrecking.

The issue is that for several items (say, the '2822/17 Brushless Outrunner 1100KV' motor), there exist multiple 'versions' of the item for each warehouse that stocks it.

The reasons for it seem obvious. Different warehouses will be able to provide the same item for different prices; having had to deal with import-tax, etc.. However, it makes trying to figure out what the best deal is an utter nightmare.

Taking the example of the above motor in mind; let's go through a typical user-experience: trying to figure out what motors to use with which propellers and which ESC's on which frame for a new quadcopter and trying to find out which things he should be ordering from which warehouse.

The above example will make the prospective buyer have to go through all kinds of permutations of combinations. Preferably, he should be able to find all he needs in the local warehouse of his region, but typically, that's a utopia that won't be true for most users; so lets assume that he will typically go for a split scenario of 'getting what is in stock at the local warehouse there, against higher price and getting the rest at the international store for lower price but much higher shipping.'

This means requiring an overview of what is in stock in the different warehouses, at which LOCAL price; and making some kind of an overview out of it that makes it clear what the consequences are in shipping. Esp. the WEIGHT aspect becomes a big issue here.

Browsing the site in multiple TABs in your browser helps , a little, but ONLY if you first switch to your 'LOCAL' warehouse, loading ALL the items you're interested in into tabs and then going through each of them that are out of stock and then switching the warehouse-location to 'global' for those; resulting in a reload of the page which, as noted in 'Issue 4', redirects to the HOME page, making you lose what you were looking at.

But now, when you've changed the warehouse-location setting, the new cookie will affect ALL your already OPEN TAB's as well. Each link you clock on will end up redirecting you to the OTHER warehouse-location... while you were actually trying to compare things between them!

Coupled with other issues (Issue 4 and Issue 5), the user-experience with the site results in a tough challenge when trying to order things from multiple warehouses. I believe that this situation is *normal* for most larger projects like putting together a new quad-copter, plane, tank, etc. Unless you order *everything* from the international warehouse, a user WILL bump into these issues...

Fix: So, what to do ? This problem is really a tough one; I'm sure. But analyzing the situation from the user-experience side, I think that the end-goal should be something along these lines:

- The site should allow you to set a 'local warehouse' location that it should use to show primary stock-info for about each item. - Each item should only 'exist once' in the system, but carry stock and pricing for each warehouse-location seperately. - All the currently multi-warehouse file/review/comment information should be merged into this 'single item' - Pricing should be displayed *always* in the currency-preference of the user - Item-lists and search-results should provide ways to either: -- Show prices and stock of ALL warehouses -- Allow you to select which warehouse stock/pricing info you want to see with each item - When ordering an item; make it clear from which warehouse-location he's ordering by listing it as part of the price/buy-now link. - Extend the order-placing functionality of the site to enable splitting orders into multiple orders automatically if items come from two (or more) warehouses. Make this *clear* also in the shopping-basket, etc.

I believe that, though the complexity of this issue is surely great, there is really no other way to prevent making any multi-warehouse projects a total mess for most people, today. For a typical quad-copter you might end up having to go back/forth multiple times between warehouse-locations because of items being in back-order in one warehouse; being to heavy to ship from the other.. or even totally not available at all. This cost me two weeks of planning over multiple evenings each week just to come to a final design/approach and know exactly how much it was going to cost me and when I would be able to start building my project. Ideally, a shopping-site should make it easy to simply click stuff together, see how much it'll cost and be able to say 'Oh yeah; sure! This looks great.. Let's go!' as opposed to my experience where the only reason i went through with it is because I'm a fanatic ;)

Issue 7:

Desc: Items are not listed as available at all in some warehouses under one category; but actually are available, just not in that category

Problem: As an illustration, try the following:

Surf to 'Global -> Multirotors & Parts -> Speed Controllers -> Hobbyking blue Series'

Notice that the Hobbyking 40A BlueSeries (SKU: Tz40A)is available there and that it seems to be available from the dutch warehouse-location as well, according to the flags listed.

Clicking on it shows that it's listed under multiple categories: > Speed Controllers > All Speed Controllers > Speed Controllers > TURNIGY ESC > Speed Controllers > 40 to 79 Amp > Speed Controllers > Heli ESC > Multi-Rotors & Parts > Speed Controller > Hobbyking Blue Series

Great. Now do the following Select 'NL warehouse' at the top-left Navigate to 'Multirotor & parts -> Speed Controllers'

Notice that there are no controllers listed at all.

If you , however, navigate to 'Speed Controllers -> 40 to 79 AMP', it becomes clear that the 'Tz40A' is , in fact, available from the NL-warehouse. Clicking on it makes it obvious that it just hasnt been added to the category 'Multirotors & Parts -> Speed Controllers' for that warehouse-location...

This goes for more speed-controllers that ARE listed as suitable/available in the Multirotors & Parts -> Speed controllers category on the GLOBAL site; but are entirely missing on the NL-site in that category (as it's entirely empty); even though the items ARE available (but in a different category).

Fix: This is fixed, for free, when implementing most/all of the suggestions from Point 6, as I believe that this problem is a result of the same issues presented there.

Issue 8:

Desc: The 'Notify me when stock is available' result-page is silly

Problem: a simple issue this time; low hanging fruit ;) The page that you get when clicking on 'email me when it arrives' is simply not very nice. White background, black text. No description of what item it belongs to.. etc.

Fix: Fix the text, first. It now says : Thankyou. Thankyou. We will email you once the item arrives in stock.

Instead it could say:

Thank you for your interest in $item_name. We strive to keep things in stock, but sadly this item's been very popular or just hard to get in stock again. The last time we had it in stock was $sku_last_in_stock. We strive to have this item available for purchase again soon from this ($warehouse_selection) warehouse.

If $instock_in_other_warehouse_is_true { Perhaps it might be of interest to you to know that this item is, in fact, currently in stock in other hobby-king warehouses.! list_warehouse_stock($sku) } else { We will notify you of new stock when it comes in! }

<click here to close>

Just a suggestion

Issue 9:

Desc: The motor-finder seems broken. Both the 'widget' and the 'compare tool'

Problem: independent of location-setting, selecting the 'motor finder' on the right hand side seems to pre-load the wrong diameter on the result-page. The table below shows the selected setting in the drop-down and the resultant 'Diameter' in the result page as well as the value of the 'diameter' parameter in the URL

Selection Result 'diameter=' 0~20mm -5~5mm 0 21-30mm -4-6mm 1 31~40mm -3~7mm 2 41~50mm -2~8mm 3 51~60mm -1~9mm 4 61~70mm 0~10mm 5 71~80mm 1~11mm 6 81~90mm 2~12mm 7 >91mm 3~13mm 8++

When in the result-page, selecting any of the '[1]'-'[5]' links under the 'compare' column-header produces the 'Side-by-side motor comparison' view. Note however that the headers under the numbers read 'Select battery'; not 'Select Motor'.

Fix: check the code and fix the parameter-interpretation and the typo; nothing exciting here.

Issue 10:

Desc: Order-overview lacks dates

Problem: When going to the order-overview, none of the orders listed have any date-stamp mentioned of when any of the activities concerning that order took place. Also under the 'view' button, the resultant overview doesnt list anything about when certain things entered the system. One would expect: Order date/time Payment date/time Shipping date/time And perhaps expected (maximum) delivery-date.

Fix: Nothing special here.. Extend database if needed; provide data in overview.

Issue 11:

Desc: info about customs/shipping is rather confusing at times.

Problem: When ordering from the international shop, it's obvious that one of the concerns to most people will be the shipping-cost. I don't remember exactly how it was presented when I was trying to order; but given that there are multiple shipping-methods with different weight/volume limits and delivery-times (and costs), made it rather hard to figure out when one was going to be crossing the weight-limit of any particular option and end up into another..

Ontop of that, the later dialog provided to produce a customs-statement is rather confusing. It doesnt give any info about 'why this is presented' or 'why would you use this'. Only later does it become clear that this option results in a different shipping-bill being printed for the customs-officers; hopefully resulting in lower customs-costs for the delivery.

Fix: A hard one.. Perhaps it would be good to show more clearly in the shopping-cart what the several shipping-options actualyl *mean* instead of just providing the names.. Also, making it easier to figure out what the cheapest one is, depending on your wishes (cost or speed and/or tracking).

Issue 12:

Desc: The site/service would benefit greatly from considering a user's total 'project' when keeping stock.

Problem: The type of stock kept in several locations is sometimes so confusing that it becomes hard to ever put a proper project together. To give examples:

NL-warehouse had nylon bolts, but no nuts in stock.

NL-warehouse has flight-controllers in stock, but no Male-to-Male servo-leads required to connect your reciever to them

NL-warehouse has several batteries in stock with XT60; but no XT60 connectors in stock

NL-warehouse has ESC's in stock (but not listed in the Multirotor category), and motors; but nearly no gold connectors in stock to connect the motors to any ESC's that come with the connectors.

Fix: I am sure that it's hard to do stock-control, especially in some of the remote warehouses. But , I think that it could be really handy to go through a 'fake order' some time. Take a working example of a project from the internet or something, and then try to order all the things required for it from different locations on the globe; trying to find all the things for it in the local warehouse. This will ensure that you can become more confident that new users (who start from scratch) actually will use your site to get up to speed.

Another approach is to build in an automatic 'sanity-check' in your stock-system. Identify sub-technologies used in your products and add those as a 'dependency' in the system. Let's take the above examples:

Nylon bolts of 4mm in system ? Require 4mm nuts to be in stock too

Flight-controllers have different kinds of connectors/connections: require the required connectors/cables to be on stock; as well as (optional) modules for them and/or mounting-material

Batteries sold with connector X ? Make sure that seperate connectors are available as well as adapater-cables for battery-chargers

ESC's and motors require coupling: if selling motors without connectors: require connectors to be in stock.

Etc etc.

All this will surely make the user-experience much better and make it easier for someone to place an order and be sure 'he has everything he needs'. This will greatly increase the chance that he/she will indeed place that order, instead of thinking 'Hmm.. maybe there's another place that has it all ..'

I'll stop here for now and leave you to either mail me back with a "You are nuts; stop writing us" or something else ;)

Again: don't take these things to mean I hate your site and/or service. In fact, quite the reverse! You provide such a wide range of items for interesting prices; as well as helping all kinds of great things for the community in the form of special hardware, sponsoring people to do product-reviews and talks/etc on youtube, etc. It's clear that next to your commercial interests, you guys are very much committed to also doing the right thing for R/C enthousiasts!

So.. with that : THANKS for all that work. I just hope that some of my comments might in fact help you improve all of that to an even higher level!