24 May 2007

Web 2.0 User Interface Design, Rethink-ed

Author: ceefour | Filed under: Ajax, Complaints, Opinions, Praises, Rails, Web 2.0

Seriously, on a more conceptual level, user interface is not just about flashy effects and visual treats.

Enter: Bill Higgins’ The Uncanny Valley of User Interface Design. (via Ajaxian)


There’s a lesson here for software designers, and one that I’ve talked about recently – we must ensure that we design our applications to remain consistent with the environment in which our software runs. In more concrete terms: a Windows application should look and feel like a Windows application, a Mac application should look and feel like a Mac application, and a web application should look and feel like a web application.

Just like Windows/Mac/Linux apps have a native look and feel, so too do browser-based applications. The native widgets of the web are the standard HTML elements – hyperlinks, tables, buttons, text inputs, select boxes, and colored spans and divs. We’ve had the tools to create richer web applications ever since pre-standards DOMs and Javascript 1.0, but it’s only been the combination of DOM (semi-)standardization, XHR de-facto standardization, emerging libraries, and exemplary next-gen apps like Google Suggest and Gmail that have led to a non-trivial segment of the software community to attempt richer web UIs which I believe we’re now lumping under the banner of ‘Ajax’ (or is it ‘RIA’?). Like the web and Java before it, the availability of Ajax technology is causing some developers to diverge from the native look and feel of the web in favor of a user interface style I call “desktop app in a web browser”.

The magic belongs to the user.

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