Peter Marklund

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Wed June 19, 2002

Efficient Web UIs - the Importance of Conventions and Simplicity

I have sometimes been in discussions with colleagues over the merits of using a web interface versus using Java applets or desktop applications. Recently I have been strengthened in my belief that eventhough (or possibly because) the web UI is rather limited in its set of features it is in most cases still preferable. Let me give you two examples of where web applications with minimalistic and conventional UIs have been superior compared to desktop apps:

By now it should be obvious which point I am trying to make: UIs should be simple and follow conventions. Also, FastMail shows that it is possible to design quite powerful and efficient web interfaces with plain HTML. There are two ubiquitous UI conventions in place today, that of the web and that of Microsoft Windows. Usability would benefit greatly if application developers would stick to either of these two UI paradigms and keep their UIs simple and focused.