Friday, October 26, 2012 8:24:08 PM
Last week, I was visiting family and often in this case, I help with a few questions with regards to computers. This includes why is it slow, what should I do with this type of messages, etc. Most common people do not know a lot about computers and how it is working. And it is not mandatory for them to have to know about them.
This example is taken from Firefox, but this basically more or less the same for every browsers. Just to be clear that I'm not targeting any browsers specifically. It just happened that this user was using Firefox. The person was receiving the following message:
Basically, a script taking time to execute or stalled. The thing is that the user doesn't know what a script is, why is it stalled or even what differences it makes to stop or continue. This is not a helpful message.
One of the issues we have with our browsers is that there are mostly tools for geeks
and we are still very far from something easy to use for most people. We can do better
. Browsers should be simple and without too much disturbance for users by default. And they should allow for an hidden preference to activate the geek mode with all messages, developer tools, etc.
Monday, January 3, 2011 2:24:17 PM
There has been quite a few discussions around RSS readers these last few days. RSS is dying
got a bit of coverage
The controversy started because of Firefox which has an open issue on removing the feed icon in the toolbar
. Mozilla made a very interesting usability survey
about what is used and not used in the toolbar of Firefox, and they found out that "only 3%–7% of users use the RSS button on the toolbar".
It may mean a few things.
- People do not care about feeds.
- People do not know what is it.
- People do not understand what is it.
The issue is not knowing why it is not used. Maybe the browser vendors should all do the same kind of survey with a more refined analysis to really understand what is happening. The tools inside the browsers for handling RSS feeds are often poorly designed and lack a bit of help for new users. They assume most of the time that people will understand what 1) the icon means 2) the principles behind this icon. There are plenty of software out there to manager your feeds, but none are really easy to use if you are a new user. It is mostly disconnected from the daily user experience. People are mostly used to the email because they have to work with it
. People never really had to work with feeds, except those tracking information.
Opera browser has an integrated mail application with an RSS reader
and there is a short screencast to explain how to add feeds
to your reading flow. Still in my suboptimal, we (browser vendors) really need serious usability studies to better integrate this feature (if necessary) in the flow of people's information consumption.Update 10:34am EST
: It seems that some people misunderstood what I was saying here. So let's get a bit deeper.
- We need better usability studies for understanding what is really happenning
- RSS buttons might be a wrong metaphor for subscribing to feed readers (see above)
- Subscription and reading are too different things, but saying RSS is dying when one button disappears is inflammatory
- The issue is wider than feeds itself, it is about interchange flow of information. For example, you can't comment about a blog post in your feed reader. *That* is an issue.
- a few more issues