March 25th, 2005

  • evan

breaking the back button

Some of my friends at work are UI designers. One of them, Chad, was recently telling me it's hard to get engineers to listen to him. It's hard, especially for smart people, for them to recognize the limitations of their own knowledge, and I think especially hard when it's something that's computery as well. I try to be aware of this phenomenon in general (though I likely fail) but in particular I've taken the teachings of people who study UI as a sort of gospel that is beyond my capability of understanding.

One of those gospels is how you should never break the back button in a web browser. I was just looking at a fancy flash slideshow on flickr with Meena, and as the last picture scrolled by she asked me which picture I liked best. She grabbed the mouse, hit the back button, and suddenly we were back on some other pictures page. "What the hell?" she asked. "Where did it go?"

It's too easy to forget that the real users, the real majority of people, who use these silly programs we make are people like her.

(Now she's reading Wikipedia: "Who writes this stuff, Evan?"
"The internet."
"But who?")