[whatwg] What improves Web applications?

Pete Harlow peter.harlow at thales-transportservices.com
Fri Jun 11 05:54:42 PDT 2004

I agree the user experience aspect is very important.

In the "Introduction to XUL" referenced below, the Amazon example is 
sprawling (too much on one page), especially as the window is small.

With the XUL example it is blindingly obvious to me what to do with the 
page (tabs), as I spend most of the day navigating such things.

However, I know plenty of people who would be completely stumped if 
presented with such a layout. Think people who can open the browser, but 
would never move files around, etc...

Better to provide a simple form of a few elements that don't need 
scrolling and a big 'next' button.
A big plus point would be to prefetch the next page so it loads 
immediately the 'next' button is clicked. Or a mechanism to load several 
forms with one document which can be dealt with sequentially in the 
browser window. People hate to wait.

Otherwise people will not fill in a tab, get an error message, have to 
go back... People *hate* to be told they have screwed up, especially by 
a machine. Especially when the reason is not apparent, the é in my 
address being a good case. Okay, people may learn to use the new widgets 
eventually, meanwhile the technology will get a bad reputation for 
purely UI issues.

Of course, there are the commercial types who will insist on a bucket 
load of graphics on each form page, a perennial problem. One of the best 
maxims to apply where computers are concerned is 'Just because you can, 
doesn't mean you should'.

I'm not saying we shouldn't have the facility to do these things - just 
to be careful to use them to enhance the experience of the user.



Nigel McFarlane wrote:
>> However, having said that, making things better for users is good too:
>> what do you think needs improving in terms of user experience with Web
>> applications?
> The point I keep coming back to with Web apps is that they
> are a fundamentally different use-case to Web docs.
> Web docs are "browsed" and "read", which can be re-phrased as
> "lightly navigated". They are visited "ad-hoc" or casually.
> Web apps are "tightly navigated" and subject to "data entry".
> They are visited "repetitively" or routinely.
> Of course, it's possible to build a DHTML page that's
> tightly navigable without the user having to absorb a lot
> of information about images and white areas. It's just not
> done much. And it's not possible to navigate a Web app by
> keyboard without the focus moving to the toolbar (irritating)
> or else providing a pop-up window.
> The web bolt-on technique of "breadcrumbing" is an example of
> how HTML is encumbered by lack of fast navigation techniques.
> There are no breadcrumbs in WinZip or in MYOB/GnuCash/QuickBooks
> (for example), and no nedd for them.
> I touched on this recently here:
>   http://www.webreference.com/programming/xul/index.html
> I'm not saying that's a full analysis, but it does
> contrast and compare some HTML tricks with XUL ones.
> - Nigel.

This e-mail and any attachment may contain confidential and privileged material intended for the addressee only. 
If you are not the addressee, you are notified that no part of the e-mail or any attachment may be disclosed, 
copied or distributed, and that any other action related to this e-mail or attachment is strictly prohibited, 
and may be unlawful. 
If you have received this e-mail by error, please notify the sender immediately by return e-mail, and delete 
this message. Thales, its subsidiaries and/or its employees shall not be liable for the incorrect or incomplete 
transmission of this e-mail or any attachments, nor responsible for any delay in receipt.

More information about the whatwg mailing list