New Widget Sample Online
Thursday January 7th, 1999
If you have been following the XPFE newsgroup, you may have come across the debate about widgets in the new cross-platform mozilla application. The final decision was for the widgets displayed on HTML pages (radio-buttons, drop-down menus, etc.) and dialog boxes to be platform-neutral for the moment, with the possibility of adding in native widget-sets later. This new platform neutral widget set requires new widget images, and the new samples have come online here.
German Bauer is the creator of these sample images, and his current thoughts can be read here. This post is really worth checking out if you have a moment.
Please be advised: this is a Work In Progress! Please don't flame the creator of these widgets in talkback. However, please feel free to post constructive criticism or other thoughts on this issue.
#41 Re:New Widget Sample Online
Friday January 8th, 1999 12:28 PM
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Although I strongly disagree with using widgets that do not look like the underlying platform, the look of the widgets is certainly NOT the most important issue. Platform feel is essential.
Widgets that don't work like widgets everywhere else in the OS are BAD!
I use the Windows95 right-click menu on text fields/textareas all the time for Copy and Paste and sometimes Undo. This keeps my hand on the mouse and is very convenient. Similar arguments can be made for standard Windows keyboard shortcuts Ctrl+C, Ctrl+v, etc. The problem with recreating these widgets is that you're likely to miss some common platform behavior. For example, scroll bars in Windows scroll a page when you click on the bar and not the scrollthumb. In other OSes it scrolls to the relative point in the region. I won't argue which is best, but that you should match the rest of the OS. If it doesn't it leads to user frustration.
As others noted, the textarea is missing. This is an important form element. The combobox sample doesn't show what a long combobox would look like if it needs scrollbars. Would the scrollbars be the same style as the scroll list?
I personally despise the "Magic Wand" technique that some web pages have gone to (particularly IE's hover color). In this technique, it is impossible to tell what items are links without waving the pointer around waiting for things to highlight/rollover. You've avoided this problem to some extent by showing some prominence to buttons at all times, but why should buttons need to change at all? I find it disconcerting if the page "ripples" when you move your mouse across it. This can lead to distraction when the user asks "what changed just then?" and goes back to see. Users think it looks cool, but the usability studies seem to indicate that it actually decreases productivity.
While I'm on it, it seems that whatever style is used for widgets in forms, should also be used for the toolbars/controls of the browser. Why reinvent buttons several times?