Jul 19, 2004

User Experience Matters (Times 2)...

Over at Java Developer's Journal, Christophe Coenraets wrote an article entitled “User Experience Matters” and it discusses some problems inherit with Web development, viz. the disconnect between the client and server.

One thing that appears to be missing from this article is the mention of the Web Forms 2.0 (discussed here), which does bring this a little more usable, but is still lacking a bit. Personally I would much more prefer a new standard in this sense than another proprietary framework like the articles Macromedia Flex Markup Language, or MXML if you prefer. An open standard will allow the development of such tools on platforms that Macromedia does not support (or does not actively support).

Never the less, the article is a short easy read, and while it does not get very verbose, it does get you thinking about your web-based application development projects.

A semi-related article was mentioned yesterday over at Slashdot. Usability is a Technical Problem (or Slashdot discussion) by KDE's Frans Englich discusses a bit of how our backends have gotten much more powerful and robust, but our front ends have not. Of course, he is not talking about the Web directly, but you can bend it a bit.

One of his arguments is that software usability is not always something that you need a lab of developers to do. Instead, you can simply look around and fix the obvious problems; Frans' example comes from Konqueror (the Windows Explorer equivalent for KDE), where a menu option “Smbmount Current Share” with its matching “Smbunmount Current Share”, and his argument is that it does not take a lab of usability experts to realize that many users will not understand what this is.

Konqueror's Tools menu

He continues this by saying that if we want to learn a technology, we can simply find something on the net that explains it inside out and find a community to discuss any questions that we have, however, an obvious problem is that there is no such resources for usability. We have countless opinions and lists of Do's and Don't's, but Frans's point is that we need the same resources for usability.

This latter article is an extremely well written piece, that is definitely worth a read, a community, and some web-based resources.

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