Menu Sidebar

Tai Toh

Enter a brief biography here by editing your profile →

    January 2007

    I read this at Google’s Bosworth: Why Ajax Failed.

    The mistakes, he said, were misperceptions of the realities of the way people would use the technology.

    For instance, Bosworth said a cardinal rule of his is KISS, or, in his words, “Keep It Simple and Stupid.” Gestures like tooling, icons, right-click and drag-drop are too obscure, he said.

    Moreover, most Web applications are designed for large numbers of customers with small amounts of customer support, and most Web applications are not used for hours a day, he said.

    Also, “You don’t need to remember how an app works,” Bosworth said. “There’s a big difference between making something easy to use and making it productive.” In other words, just because people can easily learn to use an application doesn’t mean using the application will make them more productive.

    * [Emphasis added by me.]

    That’s nugget of gold. I’ve tried very hard to make things easy to use; almost to the point of pandering to the lowest denominator. It is almost too easy for IAs, UI designers to think that “ease-of-use” is directly associated to “productivity”. They are only loosely coupled.

    A classic example is the “Wizard” design pattern. Everyone has seen it: Steps 1 to X to accomplish a task. By all means this is easier. It is less error prone. We take the bits of information and chunk them together into humanly-accessible sizes. We provide excellent error-feedback as well as visual cues to reduce and correct errors.

    In user testing, people can accomplish the task. Anecdotally though, their satisfaction is usually very low. It simply isn’t fast enough. Wizards should never be used for common, high-frequency tasks. Moreover, there should be some sort of accelerator provided for advance users.

    So here I am, designing this Fat-client application for the start-up that I’m involved in. The interface is rich and varied. I know the application will be usable—but I know that it would probably fail standard usability metrics.

    How crazy is that? No wonder I’m so jaded.

    On a side note, it’s hard to believe that AJAX was developed 10 years ago. One of the first examples of it was Outlook’s Web Interface for Exchange. I remember using it OnX back in 2002. I couldn’t figure out how they were loading in the data without refreshing the screen. I remember remarking, “Damn, that’s awesome.”

    Gentoo: Is it good for Servers?

    I use Gentoo Linux to power this website. I chose it because: I wanted to learn about Linux It has a great package management system I figure I can make the most out of the hardware (dual-P3 600 MHz, 1GB RAM), by compiling my programs with the correct platform I could configure the system the […]

    Computer Woes

    This past weekend, I ran into some unexpected computer problems with my beloved workstation. It wouldn’t boot. I managed to recover the HDD using Knoppix, a convenient Linux Distro that uses a LiveCD to install (you boot it from a CD-ROM and it runs in memory). What is especially impressive about this system is that […]

    Kinners Unite!

    Great cake., originally uploaded by Tai Toh. Not only was the cake delicious, its message was spot on. We had a pre-New Years get-together at John and Hsin-May’s house. The cake was wonderful. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since I started at Waterloo. Crazy. -Tai


    Corynn, originally uploaded by Tai Toh.  I love the look on her face. It’s just so cute. On December 4th, 2006, we welcomed Corynn to the world. Cort and Lynn are proud parents. The morning of New Year’s Eve, Jen and drove to Cort and Lynn’s house with some home-made turkey soup and home-made cookie […]

    Pixels & Widgets

    A blog by Tai Toh