Sunday, December 17, 2006

Usability on the web is a sham

Getting locked-in to bad usability features ...

"Grab your lighters people, because this may get me some flames, but it is something that's been on my mind for a while and the past couple of weeks have shown just how important experience is and how badly the traditional web does it. Humans have always been emotional creatures. We make irrational decisions based on feelings we develop attachments to things for the strangest reasons and we are profoundly affected by external stimuli. Rich Internet Applications are like the passionate, interesting Scottie on Star Trek but the web browser is Spock; technologically sound but devoid of feeling. (You're thinking "Star Trek? What?" Oh yeah, I went there.)

For the longest time the web didn't offer anything in the way of a good user experience. It was based on text and used to exchange academic information. Interactivity wasn't ever a part of the mix and the touchy-feely notion of experience was far from the minds of the scientists at CERN (Though in fairness, they were off winning Nobel Prizes). But then more people started checking out the web. It became a marketplace, a communication platform and a social medium. It opened up to regular people and they expected more than the rigid world of text and documents. As this happened, people conjured up the notion of "usability" so that the web could be a more friendly place. We have rules about the way things should behave on the web so that it is more accessible to people. Never mind that from the very beginning the whole system was never meant for real human experiences.

Let me give you an example. The back button. People complain about Flash breaking the back button and how it hurts usability. But how usable is a back button? What other place in our daily lives do we have a back button? There are a lot of "Undo buttons" but no back buttons."    (Continued via ZDNet)    [Usability Resources]


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