Posts Tagged 'browser'

Back to the Future

Browsing the web has changed plenty since the debut of the dub-dub-dub in the early 1990s, but the basic design of the graphical web browser is still remarkably similar to the first entries in the field. From NCSA Mosaic 1.0 (1993) to Internet Explorer 6 (2001) to Google Chrome 14 (2011), a degree of consistency has been firmly established and users now have solid expectations about the core functions of the browser.

So when a website decides to roll its own navigation controls and warns, “Don’t use your browser’s Back button,” it places an enormous cognitive burden on the user. By explicitly warning users not to follow their instincts, the website developer is implicitly acknowledging the likelihood that users will rely on those instincts.

The recent push by browser developers to reduce browser chrome to all but the bare necessities means that the Back button is one of the few UI elements outside the web content itself. All browsers place the Back button in the prominent upper left corner; some browsers go as far as making the Back button larger than the Forward button, thus making the Back button the largest and most visible widget in the browser. Telling users to simply forget about that very large and very useful button is not a recipe for success.

“But my website is special! It’s OK.” No, it’s not. Jakob Nielsen’s Law of the Web User Experience states that “users spend most of their time on other websites.” And if you design a website that will fail under normal expected usage, you can bet that they will spend all of their time on other websites.

Amazon mobile search bookmarklet

I’ve found a lot of useful bookmarklets to use with MobileSafari, but so far the Amazon search bookmarklets that I’ve seen use the full desktop version of Amazon.com. Amazon has a pretty slick iPhone-formatted site, so I modified an existing Amazon search bookmarklet (@ LifeClever, via Lifehacker) to search their mobile site: 

javascript:Qr=prompt('Search%20Amazon%20mobile%20for','')if(Qr)location.href='http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s.html?k='+escape(Qr)+'&submitSearch=Go&m=aps'

(WordPress.com doesn’t allow embedding JavaScript for security reasons, so you’ll have to copy & paste the above into a bookmark in Safari on your desktop before you’ll be able to use it in MobileSafari.)

I know there’s a native iPhone Amazon app (iTunes link), but without an always-on data connection and camera, the app isn’t as useful for iPod touch users. As a member of the latter camp who hasn’t found a real reason to download the app yet, this bookmarklet should make searching for and buying crap I don’t need even easier.