Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Difference in Web Applications

Broadening web design guidelines and rethinking constraints...

"Five years ago, I co-wrote a paper for the HFES (Human Factors & Ergonomics Society) conference about Design Considerations for Web-based Applications. Prior to writing the paper, my work was evolving from designing informational Web sites about the work happening at NCSA to enabling people to actually get work done using NCSA Web applications.

We developed Web-based workbenches for chemists, remote shake table controllers for earthquakes engineers, dynamic portals for corporations, and more –all for the Web. Instead of designing pages, I was designing flows, behaviors, and states. The structure of the Web, however, wasn’t evolving with us. All the applications we designed and built were delivered within a Web browser and with page-based mark-up, which lead to significant design constraints and opportunities. At the time, very few sources were talking about how to design interfaces that embraced these constraints leveraging the benefits of Web interactions.

“A number of well-developed Web usability guidelines work well when applied to traditional browsing-oriented web sites. Numerous well-researched GUI (desktop) guidelines also exist. However, neither set of principles alone is applicable to Web application interface design, since Web applications can be thought of as half web site and half client-application.

Existing web usability guidelines may hinder Web application usability by optimizing interactions toward the browsing model. Interface design guidelines for desktop applications, on the other hand, do not address conventions of Web users, current limitations of the Web environment, and the new possibilities inherent in the Web. Desktop GUI guidelines (the more adaptable of the two sets) should be translated into Web terms and supplemented with additional guidelines that emerge from the Web environment to encompass the needs of Web application interface design.” - Design Considerations for Web-based Applications."   continued ...   (Via LukeW)


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