December 4th, 2007
Over the past few years, we’ve been studying the emergence of web-based applications and the usability and design challenges that accompany bringing them to light. We’ve also been concerned with the best practices for overcoming these issues to create web apps that actually delight users. During this time, we’ve been asking ourselves, “Are these best practices unique to web-based applications, or do these best practices apply to all web site design?”
The question has turned into a bit of a conundrum, with the answer being yes and the answer being no. While good design practice is good design practice and it applies no matter what you’re designing, you need to know who your users are, what they are trying to do, and how they expect to do it. You need to watch the users work with the designs you create, so you can learn where the designs are working for them and where they are failing.
However, designing for web apps is different than just designing a web site. It lives in a browser, it has complicated activities and edge conditions, and little things can have big implications, especially when they go awry. You need to know different things when designing for web apps than when designing for any other type of interaction.
In today’s UIEtips, we’re reprinting an article I wrote last year detailing five of the greatest usability challenges that web-app designers face. The problems and constraints designers are still dealing with today make this article just as pertinent as ever.
What challenges have you faced when developing web-based applications? How have you overcome these? We’d love to hear from you. Leave your thoughts below.
[Overcoming the challenges of web-based applications is just part of what we'll be talking about at the upcoming Web App Summit, March 26-28, 2008 in San Diego, CA. You can be part of that event and receive your limited edition Web App Summit iPod nano by registering before 12/11. More details here.]Tweet