The End of Usability Culture?

13 Nov 2004 - 2:54am
9 years ago
45 replies
746 reads
Listera
2004

<http://www.digital-web.com/articles/end_of_usability_culture/>

(I thought the Patriot Act was designed to prevent sedition like this.:-)

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

Comments

13 Nov 2004 - 2:12pm
Tanya Rabourn
2004

Overall I sympathize but think his angle is unfortunate. Usability
isn't to blame here. No doubt more will read it than if Dirk just went
off on visual designers for not communicating brand better through look
and feel instead of being derivative.

Of course he does sneak in at the end,

Not allowing a usability culture to rule does not mean
abandoning it altogether. Good architecture is vital. Having
usable pages is critical. Adhering to standards and following
conventions is important to a degree.

Since he chose to craft his message as usability vs. design, that will
be lost on many.

His picking on financial institutions is a bit myopic. Banks at one
point, for example, all wanted to signal stability through their real
world architecture by all looking like archaic greek temples. Not much
originality and brand differentiation there. I'm not surprised that
their web sites do little to distinguish themselves in their
presentation. There might be a culture to blame for the similarity, but
it's not the so-called "usability culture."

-Tanya

Ziya wrote:
> <http://www.digital-web.com/articles/end_of_usability_culture/>
>
> (I thought the Patriot Act was designed to prevent sedition like
> this.:-)

13 Nov 2004 - 3:43pm
Listera
2004

Tanya Rabourn:

> Overall I sympathize...

Do you sympathize with this?

"And the largely stale and uninteresting visual and experiential nature of
what is on the Web represents the power that usability culture is exerting
over the design process. It is creating design rooted in quantitative
analysis, driven by the insights, recommendations and experiences of people
who are not trained or experienced in visual design. Certainly, these are
people with essential skill sets who invaluably contribute to the design
process. But they do not necessarily have the perspective or ability to
direct the overall design."

<http://www.digital-web.com/articles/end_of_usability_culture/>

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

13 Nov 2004 - 4:46pm
Tanya Rabourn
2004

Ziya wrote:

> Tanya Rabourn:
>
>> Overall I sympathize...
>
> Do you sympathize with this?
>
> "And the largely stale and uninteresting visual and experiential
> nature of
> what is on the Web represents the power that usability culture is
> exerting
> over the design process.
<snip>

Nope, that's where the blame is misplaced. I sympathize with his
perception and his lament that visual design appears to be constrained
or uninspired to the point of being generic when comparing some sites
(and types of sites). Things can be usable and visually interesting.
Seems like the set up of a false dichotomy to me. I think if we were to
explore the issue further, we would find the cause to be a complex mix
of corporate culture and how much emphasis is placed on differentiating
themselves through visual design in a number of channels.

-Tanya

13 Nov 2004 - 5:25pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Tanya and Ziya,

I thought I would respond here and let you know that I wrote a response to
Dirk on my own blog that I think speaks to some (but not all) of her issues
and I think brings out why Ziya posted this to our little community.

http://synapticburn.com/comments.php?id=20_0_1_0_C
Summary: effective communication needs to be a key for everyone trying to
organize today in the UX community. I think that Tanya is write about the
polarizing title and I think that Dirk actually missed his own point b/c he
did a disservice to defining design the way he did. For more click on link.
Feel free to comment anywhere. ;)

-- dave

13 Nov 2004 - 6:13pm
Listera
2004

David Heller:

> effective communication needs to be a key for everyone

If, in a single post, Dirk wants to counter half a decade of unceasing
torrent of communications ("quantitative analysis, driven by the insights,
recommendations and experiences of people who are not trained or experienced
in visual design") then who am I to question his good judgment? :-)

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

13 Nov 2004 - 7:27pm
Listera
2004

Tanya Rabourn:

>> "And the largely stale and uninteresting visual and experiential nature of
>> what is on the Web represents the power that usability culture is exerting
>> over the design process.

> Nope,

I didn't think so. That, however, is the gist of his argument/plea.

> that's where the blame is misplaced.

You may agree on some aspects of the results, but I think you fundamentally
disagree with Dirk on the causes. He's not shy in spotting the blame:

"And the largely stale and uninteresting visual and experiential nature of
what is on the Web represents the power that usability culture is exerting
over the design process. It is creating design rooted in quantitative
analysis, driven by the insights, recommendations and experiences of people
who are not trained or experienced in visual design. Certainly, these are
people with essential skill sets who invaluably contribute to the design
process. But they do not necessarily have the perspective or ability to
direct the overall design."

> Things can be usable and visually interesting.

Certainly. But this is about who will/should lead and drive digital design.

Given the track record of the "usability culture", how likely is it that the
visual/experiential component in question here will come from it? If the
"usability culture" hasn't produced the goods so far under its half-decade
long leadership, why should we follow them for the next half, is the
question Dirk is asking.

We obviously need IT to build our apps. We relied on them to pretty much
design them as well for over a decade. The results have been very poor.
Nobody is advocating IT leadership for digital design any longer. Why should
be advocating "usability culture" leadership for digital design then?

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

15 Nov 2004 - 3:32pm
Ben Hunt
2004

I've recently written on this subject, as part of the introduction to my
forthcoming book (Web Design from Scratch - the book).

I had thought this argument was in the wrapping-up stages, but after
seeing the exposure I've seen on mailing lists & blogs for Dirk
Knemeyer's "End of Usability Culture", I'm convinced to publish an
excerpt early:
http://www.webdesignfromscratch.com/sphere_of_design.cfm

Summary:

The web design community thankfully seems to be wrapping up the "design
vs. usability" argument. In case you missed it, the conclusion was: "Not
either/or but both, and it depends."

Design leaders have proved that web sites can be both usable and
beautiful, but we lack a vocabulary to talk about this new standard.

The question now is not "Which is most important?", but "How do we
deliver what's most important?"

This article introduces the "Sphere of Design", which is a simple
conceptual model that illustrates the relationship and trade-offs
between 'looks' and 'works'.

15 Nov 2004 - 4:16pm
Dave Malouf
2005

> I had thought this argument was in the wrapping-up stages,
> but after seeing the exposure I've seen on mailing lists &
> blogs for Dirk Knemeyer's "End of Usability Culture", I'm
> convinced to publish an excerpt early:
> http://www.webdesignfromscratch.com/sphere_of_design.cfm

Hi Ben,

I like your article. I have the same complaint w/ you that I had w/ Dirk.
I don't think you believe this, but you are setting up a framework that
design is a quality statement like usability.
Usability is a quality statement and a set of methods for evaluating that
process.
Design is a process. That process has specializations such as visual,
interaction, strategic, industrial, etc. But all these share the same core
process.
Design has as part of the qualities of its deliverable usability. It also
has emotional return, functional value, market value, and total strategic
value.
Design also has inputs from other sources, such as research that comes from
disciplines as varied as color theory, cognitive psychology, and HCI.

Like you said Design is not in opposition to usability. Usability is in fact
a goal fo good design, but the rest of the framework you use articulates
design as being something narrower than it is. Design starts at the highest
levels. AND to this regards, "usability" is not what "Design" is in
opposition with, but rather the practice of "business analyst" which
believes that it owns the upstream process of strategy and requirements,
when in fact Design is much better capable of coming up with longer-term,
more stable, and higher returning solutions than BA can, b/c BA is too
narrow in focus in that it only looks at related and observed problems
instead of defining problems outside of the relational and observed. But
that's a whole other discussion. ;)

-- dave

15 Nov 2004 - 4:29pm
Listera
2004

Ben Hunt:

> "Not either/or but both, and it depends."

Design uber alles!

----
Ziya

Generalizations are always inaccurate.

15 Nov 2004 - 5:41pm
Ben Hunt
2004

Ben Hunt:
> "Not either/or but both, and it depends."

Ziya:
> Design uber alles!

Ziya, I'm with you all the way! Usefulness and ease-of-use are part of
the complex problem space. Design is the discipline and process of
finding a solution that matches the problem blow-for-blow.

It's not really "usability versus design": that's just the language of
the agency trenches. As I say very clearly, it's *design*.

15 Nov 2004 - 6:16pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Nov 15, 2004, at 12:32 PM, Ben Hunt wrote:

> Design leaders have proved that web sites can be both usable and
> beautiful, but we lack a vocabulary to talk about this new standard.

We don't lack a vocabulary. We simply need to realize that discussing
"usable" and "beautiful" as separate qualities creates a natural
tension between the two. If you stop discussing these as separate
qualities, there's no need to argue over which is more important, or
what should take precedence in any design decision.

> This article introduces the "Sphere of Design", which is a simple
> conceptual model that illustrates the relationship and trade-offs
> between 'looks' and 'works'.

Sorry, but in my opinion this line of thinking just reinforces the
assumption that "functional" and "aesthetic" are on separate axes,
requiring tradeoffs or compromise to create an intersection of some
"optimal design." If you approach design problems in that way, you will
create solutions that work from a crippled point of view (imho), and
thus suffer from tradeoffs that quite frankly are not necessary in the
first place.

However, if you approach design problems thinking that functional and
aesthetic are the same problem -- not two sides of the same coin, the
*same* problem -- then the only compromises you tend make are in what
can be manufactured, coded or created based on factors outside of
typical design problems, like monetary budgets and the like.

Andrei

15 Nov 2004 - 5:31pm
Jennifer Brownson
2004

--- David Heller <dave at ixdg.org> wrote:

> Design also has inputs from other sources, such as
> research that comes from
> disciplines as varied as color theory, cognitive
> psychology, and HCI.

Are you saying that usability doesn't have input from
these sources as well? If not, where does usability
"come from?"

I can understand that in a highly-functional site,
such as a web-based application, functional usability
concerns probably trump design concerns. But are we
defining design as just the look and feel, visually,
of an application?

First job, long time ago, I worked in the middle of 2
teams, one an award-winning design group from New
York, one a cutting-edge Java development team. Idea
was to blend complex functionality with
highly-creative visual design. And yes, there was a
constant struggle between the two groups. Ultimately,
those things were resolved by the user interaction
specialists, who focused on usability issues.

BTW - Jennifer Brownson, Houston, Texas, no longer
claiming Information Architect title (it never fit
what I do), user interaction designer, INFP,
Capricorn. :)

Good to be here.

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15 Nov 2004 - 9:32pm
Dave Malouf
2005

> -----Original Message-----
> Are you saying that usability doesn't have input from
> these sources as well? If not, where does usability
> "come from?"

Actually, I believe that in its purest form usability does not require to be
informed by other theories. Why? B/c in the end usability is a quality
statement and a method of measuring the level of that quality. The result is
in the measurement, which is done in several areas, but regardless of all
the theories in the world from outside research sources, usability is its
own research source and thus does not require the others.

If I say that I should use Fritt's law to design the position and size for a
"button" (aka trigger target). That helps the design decision. The usability
of that decision will be validated when I go into the lab and put that
design in front of users and see whether the results makes sense or not.

THAT is usability, that is why it is NOT about design. It is just the
measure of a specific quality of design. And only ONE measure out of many
others.

Last point ... Does that mean that usability professionals don't do more
than that purest form of usability? Of course not. The person and the task
are intrinsically separated. This is one of the most important
considerations we can make if we are to get through all these wars and to
the real value-add of creating successful products, services and systems.

-- dave

15 Nov 2004 - 9:51pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Nov 15, 2004, at 2:31 PM, Jennifer Brownson wrote:

> I can understand that in a highly-functional site,
> such as a web-based application, functional usability
> concerns probably trump design concerns.

Since when are "functional usability concerns" not inherently design
concerns? Why do still we still persist in discussing these things as
separate entities? They're not.

The moment a chair stops allowing people to sit on it, it ceases to be
a chair. If a designer makes a chair that no one can sit on because
they did whatever they wanted to make it look pretty, they are not
designing a chair anymore, but something else. If a designer wants to
make a chair, someone has to be able to sit in it. The designer has to
acknowledge and understand what they are making in order to make it.
How the chair looks, how it feels and how it functions are all wrapped
into the same thing: designing a chair.

We have to stop confusing the issues of bad designers practicing bad
design with how the process of design itself works. And it's called
"design" which means it's done by a "designer." I agree with David H.
on the role of usability as a tool to measure success, and have ti stay
there. Usability cannot and never should drive design processes.

> But are we defining design as just the look and feel, visually,
> of an application?

I don't think anyone ever said that. Not even Dirk in the article.

> First job, long time ago, I worked in the middle of 2
> teams, one an award-winning design group from New
> York, one a cutting-edge Java development team. Idea
> was to blend complex functionality with
> highly-creative visual design. And yes, there was a
> constant struggle between the two groups. Ultimately,
> those things were resolved by the user interaction
> specialists, who focused on usability issues.

Sounds like the "award winning design group" didn't have much
experience in designing for the medium. They didn't understand that
they were designing a chair, to use the analogy from above. That only
says they lacked certain expertise about what they trying to make. It
says nothing about the process of design in general terms.

Andrei

15 Nov 2004 - 9:57pm
Listera
2004

Jennifer Brownson:

> I worked in the middle of 2 teams, one an award-winning design group from New
> York, one a cutting-edge Java development team.

So nobody was doing DESIGN.

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

15 Nov 2004 - 10:15pm
Donna Maurer
2003

At 01:32 PM 11/16/2004, David Heller wrote:
>[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
>Actually, I believe that in its purest form usability does not require to be
>informed by other theories. Why? B/c in the end usability is a quality
>statement and a method of measuring the level of that quality. The result is
>in the measurement, which is done in several areas, but regardless of all
>the theories in the world from outside research sources, usability is its
>own research source and thus does not require the others.

Don't forget though that the word 'usability' is used to describe two
things - usability testing (which is what you describe above) and the
process of creating something usable (which is historically labeled
user-centred design). So 'usability' is informed by the previously
mentioned theories when it is being used to describe the design activity...

And no usability testing can be done without an understanding of human
cognition, perception etc - these are all contributors to the way that we
work and the reasons that 'usability problems' occur. A usability tester
without an understanding of this is just someone with a stopwatch counting
time and clicks ;)

-------------------------------------------------
Donna Maurer
Usability Specialist
Step Two Designs Pty Ltd
Knowledge Management / Content Management / Intranets

http://www.steptwo.com.au/
donna at steptwo.com.au
(02) 6162 6307

15 Nov 2004 - 10:54pm
Pradyot Rai
2004

> > Design also has inputs from other sources, such as
> > research that comes from
> > disciplines as varied as color theory, cognitive
> > psychology, and HCI.
>
> Are you saying that usability doesn't have input from
> these sources as well? If not, where does usability
> "come from?"

It came from folks who either didn't know about design or from those
good at marketing. However, it has tried imitating role of design in
software arena. "Usability" is to "Design" as QA to Software
Engineering. And soon usability has to discover it's place. Or vanish
from all the titles.

I belong to a school of thought which believes there are three
fundamental domains of knowledge/skill -- Science, Arts and Design.
Where do you want to fit Usability? I am fine if you say it is
one-of-the-test for design.

Prady

15 Nov 2004 - 11:51pm
Listera
2004

Jennifer Brownson:

> If not, where does usability "come from?"

If I were a cynical person I'd say it comes from industry hype and
self-promotion, but that would be so wrong.:-)

Do we hand over the leadership of the design process to, uhm, "white-space
efficiency experts"? How about "search engine optimizers"? Do "color
correctors" drive the video editing business? Do piano tuners set the tempo
for the piece to be played?

So then, should "usability engineers" drive the design process? Well, if
Martians read the literature from the past half decade, they'd be inclined
to think they should and did. That's what's wrong.

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

16 Nov 2004 - 4:57am
Ben Hunt
2004

<Andrei>
We simply need to realize that discussing "usable" and "beautiful" as
separate qualities creates a natural tension between the two. If you
stop discussing these as separate qualities, there's no need to argue
over which is more important, or what should take precedence in any
design decision.
</Andrei>

They *are* separate qualities, and there *is* tension between them.

You cannot have a piece of high-art online that is also a powerful,
handy, clear web application. You can't have a super-functional and
easy-to-use web application that also makes visitors stop in their
tracks, filled with an emotional brand experience.

The fundamental difference, as I wrote, is that high-aesthetic-impact
products (web sites) work when they interrupt you and give you an
enjoyable (more passive) visual experience. High-function applications
work well when they *don't* stop you. They work when they enable
functions to be completed as smoothly and neatly as possible, and
everyone goes on about their day.

The whole point of my model is to illustrate both the relationship and
the tension, in a simple form that's easy to understand, so that we can
move on to the more important questions that start with "How..?"

I recognise that you can have beauty in elegance together with high
functionality.
You can also have web sites that have high visual impact, high emotional
content, and are also straightforward and useful.
That's great, and that's what the golden crescent is meant to signify -
the target for all web sites.

If there is a trade-off, which I argue there is, before designing you
ought to have an idea of the ideal placement of your finished product on
that spectrum.

I hope it's clear that I'm not advocating pursuing any further the
"usability/function/design versus art/aesthetics/design" debate (insert
your own preferred vocab). As I said, the problem is a design problem.
Every problem is a design problem, and usability (in its ease-of-use
guise) and visual impact are some of the factors in the problem-solving
design process.

<Dave>
...you are setting up a framework that design is a quality statement
like usability. Usability is a quality statement and a set of methods
for evaluating that
process. Design is a process.
</Dave>

Dave, I agree that design is a process, and that ease-of-use is a
quality statement. "Design" may also be used to describe the output of
the process.

We can talk about the quality or success of design. By my model, "Good
Design" is evidenced by sufficient visual qualities and functional
qualities in a product, and in the proper balance.

<Jennifer>
I can understand that in a highly-functional site, such as a web-based
application, functional usability concerns probably trump design
concerns.
</Jennifer>
<Andrei>
Since when are "functional usability concerns" not inherently design
concerns? Why do still we still persist in discussing these things as
separate entities? They're not.
</Andrei>

A lot of graphic designers in the web community use 'the design' to
describe the visual/aesthetic/emotional quality of the visual layer. If
I use the term in that way, it's in reference to that usage. I
understand Jennifer is using the street term.

Maybe we should adapt our language to fit the vernacular, in order to
avoid arguing about different things, and so that we can communicate
with the wider community more effectively?

16 Nov 2004 - 7:25am
Dave Malouf
2005

Some key points from Ben:

> A lot of graphic designers in the web community use 'the design' to
> describe the visual/aesthetic/emotional quality of the visual
> layer. If
> I use the term in that way, it's in reference to that usage. I
> understand Jennifer is using the street term.

<And then a bit later on>

>
> Maybe we should adapt our language to fit the vernacular, in order to
> avoid arguing about different things, and so that we can communicate
> with the wider community more effectively?

I see why this debate is a problem. Clearly there are different goals and
understandings in place. 1) Web Designers are mistaken about LOTS of things.
2) The Web is NOT in a place where I would ever want to use it as any sort
of standard building device for design, usability, or anything else other
than HTML standards.

To answer your last question in short form ... NO! I do not want to use the
vernacular, but Yes I do want to communicate with the wider community more
effectively.

Visual Design IMHO while way too often considered "design" is actually done
so due to a lack of value, not due to a strong appreciation. If we allow
ourselves to be relegated to the aesthetic we are missing our biggest
opportunity to make our greatest impact in the organizations where we work.
9/10ths of my job right now is in some way shape or form about uplifting the
false notion that "Design" is about aesthetics.

Yes! I read your piece about the spectrum of Design, but you still obviously
don't believe it, or at least haven't internalized it because you want to
move back to the "vernacular" meaning of the term.

As someone who firmly believes that "design" is a process of infinite value
way beyond the places where it is currently being used I really don't want
to give in to the false notion that design is aesthetic pursuit.

You say that there is "design" as I described it and then there is "the
design" which is the product. I would say the definitive version of the term
is a single instance of use and outcome within a period of that process and
nothing more. So in essense it is still about the process. Don't confuse the
documentation for the result.

<ben, answering Andrie about the tension between beauty and usability>
> They *are* separate qualities, and there *is* tension between them.
>
> You cannot have a piece of high-art online that is also a powerful,
> handy, clear web application. You can't have a super-functional and
> easy-to-use web application that also makes visitors stop in their
> tracks, filled with an emotional brand experience.

Uh-no ... In fact, beauty is an attribute that can add to the usability.
Also, what does high-art have to do with beauty? Some of the greatest works
of art build on dissoance and other startling attributes that while amazing
I would not call beautiful.

Lastly, as alluded to above. The reason what web-apps fail is b/c they are
on the web. The web was NEVER meant to be and should never be used as a
medium for distributing highly transactional applications. Shopping good
(maybe), Magazines (great), Marketing (maybe), but apps? Please! Again,
holding up this canvas against a discussion so important does a dis-service
to it.

BTW, I've been doing Web-app design/development for 10 years. I hate every
moment of it, but its my lot. ;) Thus I go to grad school to do different
things. ;)

-- dave

16 Nov 2004 - 11:02am
Jennifer Brownson
2004

--- Andrei Herasimchuk <andrei at involutionstudios.com>
wrote:

> We don't lack a vocabulary. We simply need to
> realize that discussing
> "usable" and "beautiful" as separate qualities
> creates a natural
> tension between the two. If you stop discussing
> these as separate
> qualities, there's no need to argue over which is
> more important, or
> what should take precedence in any design decision.

Amen.

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16 Nov 2004 - 11:15am
Jennifer Brownson
2004

--- David Heller <dave at ixdg.org> wrote:

> Actually, I believe that in its purest form
> usability does not require to be
> informed by other theories. Why? B/c in the end
> usability is a quality
> statement and a method of measuring the level of
> that quality.

Yes, we agree on this. I wanted to understand the
terms we were using.

My professional partner is a "pure" usability
professional. I design the user interaction and the
prototypes, she designs the test cases, test
protocols, and independently tests the designs. She
knows what to look for, what to test for and focus on.
She makes me better at what I do, and provides
metrics for how a design is performing with the users.

We've got our domains, but we will sometimes "bleed."

Jen

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16 Nov 2004 - 11:17am
Jennifer Brownson
2004

--- Andrei Herasimchuk <andrei at involutionstudios.com>
wrote:

>
> Since when are "functional usability concerns" not
> inherently design
> concerns? Why do still we still persist in
> discussing these things as
> separate entities? They're not.

I was asking for terminology clarification, not
arguing. I agree with you.

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16 Nov 2004 - 11:18am
Jennifer Brownson
2004

--- Listera <listera at rcn.com> wrote:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only
> relevant quoted material.]
>
> Jennifer Brownson:
>
> > I worked in the middle of 2 teams, one an
> award-winning design group from New
> > York, one a cutting-edge Java development team.
>
> So nobody was doing DESIGN.

Bingo. Hence, the problem.

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16 Nov 2004 - 11:22am
Jennifer Brownson
2004

--- Listera <listera at rcn.com> wrote:

>
> So then, should "usability engineers" drive the
> design process?

Nope. But I've gotten religion after I worked with a
good one who tested my work and made it better - pure
testing, mind you, not opinion. If you'd asked me 2
years ago, I'd have said usability-testing is hype.

Jen

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16 Nov 2004 - 12:27pm
Listera
2004

David Heller:

> The web was NEVER meant to be...

True.

> ...and should never be used as a medium for distributing highly transactional
> applications.

Never? You use GMail? That's heck of a lot faster, more responsive, more
fluid, more useful and more usable app than most standalone email clients
out there, for example. Perfect? No. But it *is* a web app
(HTTP+HTML+JavaScript) and not the only one.

What MS has done to the growth of the web with its IE strategy borders on
the criminal. But they haven't been able to kill it. The Web is alive and
soon to get a major boost of energy and new capabilities:

<http://www.apple.com/macosx/tiger/dashboard.html>

And not just at Apple. Mozilla, Opera, Macromedia, Adobe and Sun have joined
Apple on an expanded browser plug-in architecture:

<http://homepage.mac.com/jhobbs/essays/>

> Shopping good (maybe), Magazines (great), Marketing (maybe), but apps?

Absolutely.

Ziya
a RIA proponent

16 Nov 2004 - 12:42pm
Jennifer Brownson
2004

--- Listera <listera at rcn.com> wrote:

> > ...and should never be used as a medium for
> distributing highly transactional
> > applications.

That's not the trend I see right now in corporate
America. I've designed highly transactional web
applications for Dynegy, Halliburton, and my current
employers, Fortune 50 company. It's probably
considered bleeding-edge right now, but they want the
power of integrating multiple silos of information
across their company, using web services. It works,
but the user interactions are challenging, due to
technical limitations of using a browser.

It is what it is.

__________________________________
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16 Nov 2004 - 1:19pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Nov 16, 2004, at 9:27 AM, Listera wrote:

> Never? You use GMail? That's heck of a lot faster, more responsive,
> more
> fluid, more useful and more usable app than most standalone email
> clients
> out there, for example. Perfect? No. But it *is* a web app
> (HTTP+HTML+JavaScript) and not the only one

Sorry, but you're overreaching a bit here. Define "most standalone
clients."

The ones that are important, Apple Mail, MS Outlook and Eudora, do not
fall victim to being less responsive, fluid or useful than GMail.

> What MS has done to the growth of the web with its IE strategy borders
> on
> the criminal. But they haven't been able to kill it. The Web is alive
> and
> soon to get a major boost of energy and new capabilities:

Time to remind everyone that the "web" is not "the browser." It's the
"network" which has little to do with IE except that IE is currently
one of hemost popular ways in which people use the web. The other is
Outlook.

Andrei

16 Nov 2004 - 1:28pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Nov 16, 2004, at 9:42 AM, Jennifer Brownson wrote:

> That's not the trend I see right now in corporate
> America. I've designed highly transactional web
> applications for Dynegy, Halliburton, and my current
> employers, Fortune 50 company.

Not to sound flip, but those companies are usually about five to ten
years behind the technology curve. In Silicon Valley, there's a
distinctive move towards RIA style and thin clients apps, and even a
lot more work being done in the traditional desktop app space again. I
imagine that trend will filter out to corporate America and the rest of
the world soon enough as this trend finally starts to shift away from
the nuisances of building apps inside browsers.

People create apps in the browser because they have this false notion
it's faster and easier due to supporting technologies the browser
provides, when in fact it's really not. And oh, even companies like
Adobe fall victim to this themselves. It's shocking how poorly designed
the Adobe intranet and employees services are designed. But things are
a changing.

Finally.

Andrei

16 Nov 2004 - 1:48pm
Listera
2004

Andrei Herasimchuk:

> The ones that are important, Apple Mail, MS Outlook and Eudora, do not
> fall victim to being less responsive, fluid or useful than GMail.

It's faster to find stuff in GMail than Mail.app and even auto-complete
addresses, for example.

> Time to remind everyone that the "web" is not "the browser." It's the
> "network"

Uhm, what exactly is the web without an HTML renderer (browser)? Perhaps you
are thinking of Internet vs. web? To me, web = HTTP+HTML, at a minimum.

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

16 Nov 2004 - 2:15pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Nov 16, 2004, at 10:48 AM, Listera wrote:

> It's faster to find stuff in GMail than Mail.app and even auto-complete
> addresses, for example.

I have no problems with auto-complete or finding stuff in Mail. Both
operations take me less than a few seconds and I do them on a daily
basis with 10,000+ emails

> Uhm, what exactly is the web without an HTML renderer (browser)?
> Perhaps you
> are thinking of Internet vs. web? To me, web = HTTP+HTML, at a minimum.

So what would you call all those popular poker apps out there, that use
"web services" but do not use HTML? Are they not "web" apps?

Andrei

16 Nov 2004 - 2:41pm
Listera
2004

Andrei Herasimchuk:

> So what would you call all those popular poker apps out there, that use
> "web services" but do not use HTML? Are they not "web" apps?

"Web services" is one of the worst misnomers out there. You can have a "web
service" without involving any homo sapiens, machine-to-machine. Yes, until
the results of the "web service" somehow gets rendered, I wouldn't call them
web apps. Is fingering/pinging someone web app? When your machine checks
DNS, are you engaged in web app activity? Let's not stretch the word. Web is
a subset of the Internet and notably uses HTTP+HTML.

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

16 Nov 2004 - 2:58pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Nov 16, 2004, at 11:41 AM, Listera wrote:

> ...Until the results of the "web service" somehow gets rendered, I
> wouldn't call them
> web apps.

Those poker apps do render the "web service." That a whole lot more.
Try some of the them out. They are actually quite robust networked
applications.

> Is fingering/pinging someone web app? When your machine checks
> DNS, are you engaged in web app activity? Let's not stretch the word.
> Web is
> a subset of the Internet and notably uses HTTP+HTML.

You didn't answer my specific question about whether current poker apps
are "web apps" and your specificity to include HTML into the definition
of the "web" I think is quite inaccurate.

Andrei

16 Nov 2004 - 3:02pm
Listera
2004

Andrei Herasimchuk:

> You didn't answer my specific question about whether current poker apps
> are "web apps"

Is there any way I can answer this with you inducing me into playing poker
online?

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

16 Nov 2004 - 3:13pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Nov 16, 2004, at 12:02 PM, Listera wrote:

> Is there any way I can answer this with you inducing me into playing
> poker
> online?

Be careful, I'm an avid poker player, with some respectable money
finishes in large tournaments. Unless of course you meant "without
inducing"

Download the poker apps and use them. You can use play money and not
real money. And again, the question is: Are the "web" apps or not.

Andrei

16 Nov 2004 - 3:19pm
Listera
2004

Andrei Herasimchuk:

> Unless of course you meant "without inducing"

Yes, sorry, without inducing. I mean, couldn't you just describe the darn
thing in a sentence or two? What's the runtime? Is it just data update in
the background? Any different than what a dynamically updating Flash app
would do? Is it something you couldn't do with HTML+updating variable data
without page refresh?

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

16 Nov 2004 - 3:31pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Nov 16, 2004, at 12:19 PM, Listera wrote:

> Yes, sorry, without inducing. I mean, couldn't you just describe the
> darn
> thing in a sentence or two?

Allows people to pay poker online for real money or for fun.

> What's the runtime?

Usually a client install. Pokeroom.com allows for a Java client version
of the app if you don't want to install the client. the Java app runs
reasonably well and requires n install, just an account.

> Is it just data update in the background?

No. It's playing poker, wining real money, adding real money into your
account or taking money out that you've won. Tournaments, different
games, chat features, animation, etc. Very dynamic and very
interactive.

> Any different than what a dynamically updating Flash app
> would do?

No sure why that's important, but I suppose you attempt to do the
entire in Flash, but that would be overkill for Flash.

> Is it something you couldn't do with HTML+updating variable data
> without page refresh?

Yes, but the experience would be significantly reduced to the point of
useless. Speed is important with poker apps. Install a few, only take a
small amount of time, and there's a lot to learn (both in what to do
and what not to do) with regard to clients like this. Also note that
many of the poker clients mix some HTML content into the client apps.
Just do a google search on "poker" and follow some of the links.

Andrei

16 Nov 2004 - 3:47pm
Listera
2004

Andrei Herasimchuk:

> Speed is important with poker apps.

I think GMail and Blogger prove that you can achieve pretty stunning speed
benchmarks with HTTP+HTML+JavaScript. The idea is to only update the
variable data. The initial downloading of the UI *always* takes time,
whether it's Java, XUL, XAML, MXML, Flash or HTML. I maintain that using the
above approach one can design and deliver highly fluid/low latency
HTTP+HTML+JavaScript web apps. One can also do the same by using various
other technologies to be sure. So I am not certain what exactly we're
arguing here. (When I have some free time I'll try to play with a poker
app.)

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

16 Nov 2004 - 3:57pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Nov 16, 2004, at 12:47 PM, Listera wrote:

> The idea is to only update the variable data.

The issue is outside of the UI and use of a browser as front end or a
other technology. That's purely a design and engineering decision.

> The initial downloading of the UI *always* takes time,
> whether it's Java, XUL, XAML, MXML, Flash or HTML. I maintain that
> using the
> above approach one can design and deliver highly fluid/low latency
> HTTP+HTML+JavaScript web apps.

To a certain degree, that's tue. But you'll hit a wall at some point in
the user expeirence with that approach. A wall that doesn't exist if
you built a thin client, RIA or traditional desktop client.

> One can also do the same by using various
> other technologies to be sure. So I am not certain what exactly we're
> arguing here. (When I have some free time I'll try to play with a poker
> app.)

One point we're arguing over is your specific definition of the "web"
being HTTP+HTML, which I think wildly inaccurate. Another we can argue
is over how much HTTP+HTML+JavaScript *lacks* when put up against the
user experience of a thin client, RIA or web-enabled desktop client.

Andrei

16 Nov 2004 - 4:23pm
Jennifer Brownson
2004

--- Andrei Herasimchuk <andrei at involutionstudios.com>
wrote:
>
> Not to sound flip, but those companies are usually
> about five to ten
> years behind the technology curve.

Oh, I totally agree. And these companies are just now
discovering user interaction design. Point is, this
is current state in large corporations, and if we work
within them, it's what we deal with.

__________________________________
Do you Yahoo!?
Meet the all-new My Yahoo! - Try it today!
http://my.yahoo.com

16 Nov 2004 - 3:02pm
Eric Forget
2004

> Andrei Herasimchuk:
>
>> So what would you call all those popular poker apps out there, that use
>> "web services" but do not use HTML? Are they not "web" apps?
>
> "Web services" is one of the worst misnomers out there. You can have a "web
> service" without involving any homo sapiens, machine-to-machine. Yes, until
> the results of the "web service" somehow gets rendered, I wouldn't call them
> web apps. Is fingering/pinging someone web app? When your machine checks
> DNS, are you engaged in web app activity? Let's not stretch the word. Web is
> a subset of the Internet and notably uses HTTP+HTML.

The web as always been related to HTTP and never to HTML. HTML is just one
of the format "transported" by HTTP. Other popular ones are: GIF, JPEG,
Flash, stylesheets, JavaScript source code, XML, etc.

Web services are HTTP + XML. They can be designed to be shown to the user or
not, exactly like HTML. The advantage of XML over HTML is that it allows
better understanding of the structure of the document on the client side.
The browser is not the only way to display web content (HTTP + HTML). Old
Sherlock web search is an example. There was also, before web services, thin
clients to display weather forecast, stock analysis, etc.

Éric

___________________________________________________________________

Eric Forget Cafederic
ForgetE at cafederic.com <http://www.cafederic.com/>

16 Nov 2004 - 5:43pm
Listera
2004

Andrei Herasimchuk:

> Another we can argue is over how much HTTP+HTML+JavaScript *lacks* when put up
> against the user experience of a thin client, RIA or web-enabled desktop
> client.

(I'd been designing/developing client/server, standalone, interactive apps
and video for a decade before the web arrived.)

I think if you put GMail or Blogger up against comparable thin clients, RIAs
or web-enabled desktop clients, you'd see that HTTP+HTML+JavaScript doesn't
lack all that much, especially in terms of speed, latency, fluidity, etc.
I'm sure you've seen thin clients, RIAs or web-enabled desktop clients that
suck, too. Try, with Flash for instance, loading a large dataset to the
DataGrid or parse deeply-nested XML or move lots of bitmaps around on the
screen or render small text, etc. You will "hit a wall at some point in
the user expeirence with that approach," as you say. What I'm saying here is
that, GMail and Blogger are obvious examples of the fact that one can
achieve great functionality and user experience with HTTP+HTML+JavaScript
alone.[1]

Once we get "canvas" and other goodies with Dashboard, across platforms, I
think the notion that web's dead will look pretty silly.

<http://www.apple.com/macosx/tiger/dashboard.html>

Ziya
a RIA proponent

[1] I wish Google stuff was better designed visually, but that's another
thread.

18 Nov 2004 - 3:12am
subimage interactive
2004

> Lastly, as alluded to above. The reason what web-apps fail is b/c they are
> on the web. The web was NEVER meant to be and should never be used as a
> medium for distributing highly transactional applications. Shopping good
> (maybe), Magazines (great), Marketing (maybe), but apps? Please! Again,
> holding up this canvas against a discussion so important does a dis-service
> to it.
>
> BTW, I've been doing Web-app design/development for 10 years. I hate every
> moment of it, but its my lot. ;) Thus I go to grad school to do different
> things. ;)
>
> -- dave

I just don't think you've worked with a good team. A lot of awesome
things are possible when you have a good dhtml person and the right
server team to back them up.

Sure there are challenges to providing a nice cross-browser functional
web app, but they can be overcome.

I've been doing it for close to 8 years...funny, didn't know people
did web application development back in 1994??? ;) Web app development
with cgi/perl? Doesn't sound like it was possible. Please educate
me...

--
seth @ subimage interactive
http://www.subimage.com/

18 Nov 2004 - 7:23am
Dave Malouf
2005

> I just don't think you've worked with a good team. A lot of awesome
> things are possible when you have a good dhtml person and the right
> server team to back them up.

No, I've worked w/ some of the best. I have NEVER seen a truly x-platform,
x-browser web-app that I had a design that was not overly sacrificed. There
are ALWAYS sacrifices to be made, but I have felt that
http/html/javascrtip/css create too many sacrifices.

Ziya pointed to apps like Gmail.
1st, Gmail and e-mail in general are the simplest apps being done in this
environment. Even simpler apps require "extras" like Ofoto. AND! I do think
that Gmail has some HUGE limitations in its behaviors compared to
Outlook2003. Ok, It is better than Lotus Notes ... But what isn't? Just b/c
they thought of making categories and threading to be core as opposed to
2ndary functionality by itself doesn't mean that its implementation is
nearly as smooth or reliable as the desktop version.

If you want to take full-advantage of the easy distributed behavior of HTML
(it's #1 selling point for being an application environment, IMHO) in an
enterprise or x-enterprise environment. These enterprise applications almost
always end up requiring some type of "extra" because they have to
communicate to the personal computer of the user often to the point of
access to the registry (to take a windows specific term). Doing distributed
applications while at the same time requiring access to the desktop that is
x-browser/x-platform is not really what http/html were made for, eh? Even
Flash has strict limitations in this regard.

> Sure there are challenges to providing a nice cross-browser functional
> web app, but they can be overcome.

Get the desktop in http/html. Please ... I need help and I'm willing to
accept it. I can't use pluggin's b/c we are a beyond the firewall service,
servicing a community that has strict install protocols.

> I've been doing it for close to 8 years...funny, didn't know people
> did web application development back in 1994??? ;) Web app development
> with cgi/perl? Doesn't sound like it was possible. Please educate
> me...

8-10 ... Why is it that programmers are always so exacting ... I think my
first web-app was for AT&T in 1995 ... Is that OK? Can you give me a month?!
And it was done in HTML/CGI. It was connected to a database and
transactional. By 1996 I was doing online trading systems, 401k management
systems, and credit card management systems.

-- dave

18 Nov 2004 - 12:49pm
Listera
2004

David Heller:

> Even Flash has strict limitations in this regard.

Minor point: This is strictly a Macromedia security policy, not a
technological issue, as evidenced by Central's access to the desktop.

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

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