UIEtips: Five Usability Challenges of Web-Based Applications

Jared Spool

November 17th, 2010

For years, we’ve been touring the world talking about designing web sites. At every presentation we’ve given, someone approaches us and asks the tough question: “Does this apply to web-based applications?”

It’s a tough question because the answer often is Yes and No. Yes, 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.

But No. Designing for web apps is a different type of animal. 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.

Then again, that’s what makes design interesting. Understanding the problems and fitting them into the constraints is the fun part of design.

In today’s UIEtips, we look back at an article from November 2006 that still rings true today. I talk about five usability challenges that web-app designers face. While these are not unique to web apps, designers will find themselves dealing with problems and constraints they’ll rarely see other places.

Read the article: Five Usability Challenges of Web-Based Applications

Part of the challenge in web applications is the visual design of a web application. David Rivers tackles this challenge in our next UIE Virtual Seminar: Visual Design for Web Applications, tomorrow, November 18. David shares real-world examples and insights that you won’t want to miss. Learn more about the virtual seminar.

What challenges have you faced when developing web-based applications? How have you overcome these? We’d love to know. Leave your thoughts in the discussion below.

2 Responses to “UIEtips: Five Usability Challenges of Web-Based Applications”

  1. The UX differences between websites and web software applications « OxfordTechnologyVentures Says:

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