March 10, 2010

Quick thoughts on webservice user navigation

Wrote this as a reply on TwentySided, but thought I could just as well share it here.

Case in point is the hilarious, headslapping, lose-all-faith-in-humanity episode over at ReadWriteWeb, where the author commented on Facebook login, and ended up being the top entry for google searches on just "facebook login". Read the comments to see what happened.

When I installed Jolicloud on my netbook a few months ago, I smirked at the notion that the web-service is an application, but kinda saw it’s usefulness. Jolicloud installs twitter, facebook, gmail, etc. as applications, that really are just a full screened browser without any address bar.

This case however demonstrates quite clearly why users SHOULD be taught to create desktop shortcuts to their favorite websites rather than navigating to them. (New users don’t grasp bookmarks, and all applications live on the desktop as icons). With a shortcut created the first time you register on a site, you know you will be going back to the same site when clicking that icon.

This is even more important for new users these days where the URL input field doubles as the search field in most browsers. 5 years ago googling “facebook login” required going to google first, now you do that by simply typing “facebook login” into the address field. It is actually understandable that new users do that instead of learning the weird wizardry incarnations of URLs, with all their hacks and slashes.

So, to all of you teaching your parents, grandparents or kids how to use facebook or some other site to connect with you and friends, make sure to create a shortcut for them to use for logging in.

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