17 January 2012

Better web browser usability?

This article was first published on 29 January 2005. It seems to have been implemented in IOS as 'Add to Reading List'.

Better web browser usability?

Scott Berkun has written a long article on how to build a better browser. There are some interesting links such as Abram’s empirical research into bookmarks [archive.org], and Tauscher’s work on history and navigation [also on archive.org]. I would also recommend Andy Cockburn’s work into people’s mental models of browser navigation mechanisms. Though this work is of a lower level than most browser designers need to know, it shows how even the programming operation of something should have HCI input to help prevent problems.

Scott discusses intelligent bookmarks, research and annotations, interaction with websites, and the like, and also discusses ideas that aren’t so good. His mention of intelligent bookmarks reminds me of something a colleague and friend of mine Hans Neth came up with - a temporary bookmark system that existed only for a session but was very malleable - he termed them anchors. However, the navigation of such a system was problematic: research has focused on ways of navigation using ancilliary controls (like maps), but users’ always seem to fall back on memory and the back button unless they are really lost.

Maybe that would be a good research question: how can you help provide a visual navigation system that doesn’t get in the way? Solutions with extra windows need not apply…!

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