Steven's Notebook

Look Ma - No Hands!

It’s the Little Things

Application development, especially User Interface, is very much about “the little things.” The things that make life easier for users. Here’s a simple example, one that bugs me almost every time I use a browser.

There are probably URLs that you type often and, for whatever reason, you don’t bother to make into bookmarks or favorites. Maybe you’re just a keyboard person, and Control-L type-type-type is easier for you. Maybe you’ve got them memorized and there are too many to fit nicely in your tool bar. Whatever.

So you alt-Tab to your Firefox window, click in the address bar (or use the Control-L keyboard shortcut) and start typing a URL. If the letters you type are part of an address you’ve used before, it shows you a list.

screenshot from Firefox

This is all well and good, and Internet Explorer does something similar. It’s fine. You type, you mouse or cursor down, you go on with your day.

Until you use Chrome.

Control-L, type type type, and…

Screenshot from Chrome
(There really was also a menu, Chrome just didn’t leave it down for my my screen-capture software to grab in the image.)

Hey, check that out – the URL that matches my typing and that I use the most is already in my address bar. I don’t have to cursor- or mouse-down to it, I can just drop my right pinkie on the Enter key and zoom, away we go. Imagine that. Control-L, face[enter] and I’m on my way to Facebook. Control-L, netf[enter] and I’m looking at my Netflix queue. No more hunting through a drop-down list unless I’m looking for something different than usual.

It’s not a big deal but as with most conveniences, once you’ve gotten used to it everything else is just a little more frustrating.

So – what’s frustrating your users/customers, what’s your competitor is making easier for them?

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