Smart Sandbox: When Cross-platform Integration has Issues

In the past week,†Smart Communications launched †Sandbox, The Philippine telecoms giant’s entry into the local social network scene. Sandbox boasts an integrated social community on the web and mobile platforms. From the Sandbox site’s own words:

Sandbox is a portal that brings all content and services you love on the web all in one place.

In Sandbox, you can create your own profile and update your status for your friends to see. You can upload and view photos and videos, write a blog or join a forum discussion. You can also go shopping on line. You can send and receive email and download music, games and various other content.

I’ve been part of the beta testing group and I’ve had the chance to use it before the public launch. So, is Sandbox any good?

Here are some blog posts to give you an idea how the site is:

For a local social network, it’s pretty ambitious because it’s trying to wean mobile phone users into using an integrated web & mobile service. From a usability point of view, the service has to be very seamless and the whole process of transitioning should be efficient and satisfying. And this includes proper error handling.

But if you look at one of the crucial functionalities, Sandbox falls pretty flat.

The functionality I’m talking about is the password retrieval system and basic support.

If you forgot your password, Sandbox will only send your password to your mobile phone. Hypothetically, that shouldn’t be a problem, but for the last few days, I have yet to receive the password from the mobile number I registered.

In addition to that, there is a more grave flaw: the lack of an easy way to contact the Sandbox site support staff for help. If you look hard enough, you will discover in the site’s FAQs that you need to send an email to a certain address to be able to contact Smart. Apart from your call for help, you have to send a screenshot of your problem. Can you imagine succesful social networks like Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn putting the burden completely on the user to provide the information to get support?

The fact that there are issues with the web & mobile integration means that support & sufficient user feedback mechanisms should be in place to make it easier for new users. Seemingly little things like these make the user experience a much more painless and satisfying one.

I’ve already given some recommendations in improving the navigation, particularly in the mobile platform. I’ve gone as fas as recommending the delay of the launch unless these issues were solved.†The site went live with most of the issues still there.

Way to go Smart.