Kevin Basil (signature)

Repent! The Lizard is for Users!

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Written by Basil on 08/21/2002 10:30 AM. Filed under:

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Asa : “I don’t have any usability data to back up my claim either but it seems pretty obvious to me…” blah blah blah, lots of blather that is neither obvious nor intuitive.

User interaction design means thinking outside the box of user interfaces. Looking at interaction from different angles increases the possibility of solutions that increase an interface’s usability. Repeat after me:
User interaction != user interface

From this perspective, broken pages are a usability problem. User Foo goes to a page written badly (say, using a poor joke of a WYSIWYG HTML generator, like FrontPage). In the dominant product, Internet Explorer, the page works just fine. In the browser that does not ship with my computer and is a pain to install (from the end-user perspective), the page does not display correctly. Why would I think the problem is with the browser that is simple to use because it’s a seamless part of the operating system? That’s the browser that’s displaying the page “correctly”!

Better example: user Bar goes to a page designed using another wussy-wig application, say Dreamweaver. It has all sorts of JavaScript inserted to do important things, like say, submit the form on the page. Let’s further pretend that the user really needs this form to work. It’s a form on her bank’s website. The page designer has tested it in Netscape 4.7 and Internet Explorer 4x and above. It does nary a thing in Mozilla. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilcho. What end-user is not going to think, “That’s a nasty bug. I guess Mozilla’s not ready for prime-time”? Only the power-user that’s a Mozilla evangelist with enough time and energy to sift through the steaming piles of MM_foo scripts and enough knowledge to find the non-ECMA/non–W3C-DOM objects and functions.

Thus, this is a top usability problem for Mozilla. It is a usability problem because it prevents users from using the browser for their daily operations. The answer? The answer certainly is not making Mozilla act badly, though recent checkins would appear to suggest that think otherwise.

mpt is simply suggesting a simple element in the UI to indicate to the user when the problems are not Mozilla’s fault. The happy standards evangelist, free with your download of Mozilla!

Of course, Asa will remind me that Mozilla is only made available for testing. It’s not for end-users. What bosh.

So, for everyone else besides Asa (who either won’t care or has already read them), some things to read:

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