Okay, it was morning, I wanted to sleep and somehow wrote long interesting and long comment in one blog. Then I woke up swearing at myself: not recent posts in my blog and I write long comments in others. So I decided to post that comment here, adding pictures. It’s about pay cards for cellular operators and its’ usability.

Events Preceding

Roman Golubovsky attends pay codes on cards of cellular operators in his blog. He found out the Kyivstar clients had to enter the long code with no separators, to add money to their account, while MTS users saw code divided by spaces, so it was easier to read. Roman asks himself if nowadays Kyivstar has stolen the idea or it doesn’t matter as long as cards became easier to use. Finally he decides, that MTS made standard and it began to spread.

For Real

Separation long numbers in shorter to improve readability is not new. There are some things like this, that are obvious to anyone who thinks about problem of usability.

First grader of Ukraine, US and some other country would write 20-th element of Fibonacci's AAAAA somehow like this

In school we studied that dividing the long numbers is ok. In Ukraine we used dot while in US, as far as I know, coma was a separator. We wrote five thousands like 5.000 (period is not separating decimal while coma does in Ukrainian and Russian). Then we grew up and got all that bunch of phone numbers, dates and others, where long numbers are separated so it is easier to read and understand them.

Easy to read numbers are all around starting from random phone number and finishing with IP's of rad sites

Spaces, hyphens, slashes, dots and comas can be separators. After the pencils became common in Japan, many teenage girl started to separate words with different kawaii symbols like ★♥♂☼ and even Latin letters. ^___^ It was prohibited later but migrated to blogs, comics, anime and etc. That’s quite another topic to discuss.

It’s a pity, but we don’t use apostrophes to separate numbers. They look magnificent: 12500002 — stylishly and doesn’t break the lexeme that number is for sure is.

Okay, I am almost finished, just want to add that I used pay cards in Moscow in about `03 and numbers were separated by spaces already. And nowadays even UIN (ICQ numbers) are separated with hyphens.

From Numbers to the Cards

It just looks like one day the developer of the Kyivstar cards started loving his job and decided to make them more usable. And he did it, even disregarding numbers separation, let’s see why.

Photo by Roman Golubovsky
  1. Position of number is perfect, because people hold the card at the bottom corners while entering code. MTS placed code in way it would be too near to the thumb that would make user feel uncomfy, while Kyivstar left enough space to feel freedom ;)
  2. The method of entering the code with prefix is illustrated better on Kyivstar cards while MTS' "*100*" looks like decoration and # with phone icon may be connected with anything but the code.
  3. The most valuable for me is that code on Kyivstar's cards is placed that way that even if you tear perforated plastic wrap with card, you won't damage the code anyway. MTS' code can be torn away if the perforation is on the left site of the bag.

I use life :) cell operator and use iBox terminals or Euroset’ stores to add money to my cell account. Euroset’ gives checks where the code is also separated by spaces, so, MTS’, nothing new in your way of presenting code, but respect that you though of that and now you have even more things to improve!