I'm currently finishing my bachelor's degree. The school I attend to provide their students with a webapplication called Classfronter. The goal of the tool is that students and teachers communicate among themselves, sharing their experience and help each other out. The application provides "rooms" for each course where students may post on the forum, share documents and chat in real time.
The problem is that many "rooms" are almost as dead as the Sahara desert after a nuclear strike. One reason is of course the chicken and egg problem. Noone use it because noone use it. Another reason, and a far greater one in my opinion, is that it's not a pleasant experience using it!
The application is painfully slow, hard to navigate and during the earlier years it was only fairly usable in Internet Explorer. I run my own website, hybelmat.com
, aimed primarily at students. It's a site where users may send in simple food recipies and search the database for something to eat. My stats shows that norwegian students prefer Opera and Firefox equally well to Internet Explorer. Actually less than
50% of my visitors use Internet Explorer.
My point with all of this is that the tool we are presented with fails in three important aspects: speed, usability and compatibility. When the tool you provide is so hard to use that it's a nuisance for its users, you've got a huge problem on your hands. When the server is so bogged down with work that it spends 12 seconds generating a page and the users have to switch pages 3 times in order to get to where they want, that is not
During my spare time, I'm working on my own webapplication complete with fancy Ajax, context menus, ECMAScript and dangling shiny things to dazzle the eyes. Well... except that last one
. It started out as a simple tool for my brother and I, but is currently escalating to a project with potential for future profit.
One of the criterias of my webapplication is that it should be accessible from a cellphone provided the user agent doesn't choke on XHTML. Among other things, I cannot
rely on ecmascript for critical functionality or even a display size of more than 128 pixels. Considering this, Opera Mini really came as a blessing for me.
Currently, on broadband, it takes me less than a second to refresh the page, and I would rather sacrifice a semi-nice feature before I sacrificed that.