MozillaZine on Skins
Tuesday April 11th, 2000
I have decided to put my own head on the chopping block and weigh in on the Mozilla skins and native widgets debate. To read more, click "Full Article" below.
#62 What about the end users?
Thursday April 13th, 2000 7:25 PM
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As a human-computer interaction student, I can find several flaws in the Netscape 6 and the Mozilla interface. Unfortunately, I feel that these issues will prevent the majority of computer users from giving this new project a chance.
Let's face it, the vast majority of Netscape 6 and Mozilla users are going to be general Windows users.
These users do not know, nor do they care, what XUL is. They do not care about web standards. They do not care about portability. The only thing that concerns these individuals is that they have a program that is comfortable to use.
To these users, the new interface is downright intimidating. It is new and unfamiliar. If they have heard about 'skinability', they will not use it, even if a simple 'skin switching' option is added. (This is statistically accurate)
As much time and patience as the developers have put into this project, they have ignored some fundamental flaws.
Here's the most important one. Cross-platform interfaces only benefit the developer. Most users will only use one brand of operating system, and stick with it for the rest of their lives.
The generic sterile interface will not adapt well with their operating system. It does not conform with the users specified colour settings. It does not conform with the users specified scrollbar and button sizes. It does not conform with the users specified font settings. This should not be dismissed. There are several users who depend on these settings to interact with their computer (the seeing impaired, for instance).
As much as developers like to create beautifully abstract and portable code, you must realise that the user is not a developer, and will certainly not share your views. Please remember who these products are written for. It could very well be the key to a successful project.