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SIGIA-L Mail Archives: Re: [Sigia-l] Usability of launching new

Re: [Sigia-l] Usability of launching new browser window?

From: Benjamin Protas (ben_at_benprotas.com)
Date: Tue Jul 30 2002 - 16:58:36 EDT


>How exactly do you remember what was on a window 6 back-button clicks
>away?

Good point...you don't. I don't claim that there is *no* cognitive
friction with the Back button, or that it's a *good* interface...I just
think it's better than new windows.

>How about the 27th one? Just because there appears to be no 'clutter'
>doesn't mean that there's no 'cognitive' confusion. I guarantee that if
>you
>click your back button 27 times, you will definitely get improperly
>re-rendered/re-cached/re-served/etc pages.

This is true in practice, but also a relatively recent phenomenon.
There's no reason why hitting back to a page shouldn't render it just as
it was when you went there the first time, no matter how far back it is.
This was a big deal at a .com where I worked, where we made sure that
even in multi-step forms you could hit 'back' and 'forward' to your
hearts content without screwing stuff up -- our error rate was very,
very low compared to similar sites because of it.

>
>Not everything you do and every site you go while 'browsing all day'
are
>equal in getting and keeping your attention. When you are going through
>a
>banking process I bet you are paying more attention than if you were
>just
>surfing through the Sigia-l archives. This generalized, amorphous
'rule'
>of
>the back button may warrant a Jakob alert, but, like most anything else
>grounded in reality, it all depends, on the circumstances, audience,
>process, goal, etc.

If you use the back button, sites you've gone to are 'forgotten' unless
you explicitly want to remember them; the opposite is true of new
windows, where they hang around until you close them. Users that are
easily confused for whatever reason -- my original post mentioned my
father with visual difficulties -- NEVER remember to close them.

I hope the back button issue warrants more than a "Jakob alert", I hope
it warrants studying the audience, goals, circumstances, etc. that you
mentioned. This whole conversation started because some designers hated
using the back button and therefore didn't want to use it, and I merely
hope to point out that there are many valid benefits of the back button
in terms of usability and accessibility. It's not a
"do-this-all-the-time" Nielsenesque heuristic, but it is certainly more
important than just going with the designers preference.

ben

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