CHI-WEB Archives

ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)


Options: Use Forum View

Use Monospaced Font
Show Text Part by Default
Show All Mail Headers

Message: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Author: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
Scooter Morris <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Scooter Morris <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 26 Aug 1998 09:34:40 -0700
text/plain (89 lines)
This has been an interesting discussion, but I think it deserves some more
specificity.  When we talk about "spawning new windows" are we talking
about a complete browser or a window?  Most of us would agree that dialog
boxes and small informative or input windows of that type are quite useful,
and don't seem to confuse most novice users.  On the other hand, spawning
a new browser, which completely overlays the existing browser is clearly
confusing to novice and more expert users alike.  There is also an intermediate
ground -- spawning a browser window without menu bars and decorations.  There
are times when this can be extremely helpful to the user, and if there are not
menu bars or decorations, you can avoid some of the confusion the user might
experience.  We have a web site we're developing to support adults of growth
hormone deficient children.  One of the important features of this site is
a glossary of terms -- terms which are used commonly by their physicians and
in the materials that they might receive.  We've linked these terms in the text
to a small window which pops up to display the term and the definition.  If the
user leaves the window up and clicks on a different term in the main text, the
window updates to the new term.  They can also scroll through the list of terms.
I believe this to be an appropriate use of a new window.  It is small, does not
with the main browser window, and doesn't even look like a browser window.

-- scooter

Roger Chang wrote:

>         I've never personally seen a problem with anything other than JavaScript
> windows in usability testing.  Anecdotally, I know that users say they lose
> browser instances spawned off hyperlinks, particularly when surfing for a
> long time.
>         As more of a power-user, I myself prefer them; I do not believe novices
> feel the same way.  As a designer, I try to follow that general rule I read
> from a Sun article that a separate window could be spawned only if it
> provides functionality over and above navigation, but this article was
> referring to applet windows.
>         I'll start off some pros and cons on those small child windows one can
> spawn from scipt enabled browsers (rather than generic hyperlinks that can
> spawn separate browser instances, but some comments apply to both).
> Some Pros:
> - definitely saves real-estate to deploy to the masses
> - allows the window to be used as a browser separate from the parent
> retaining context of the parent
> - allows for dialogs to be spawned that are peripheral to or support the web
> application
> - cool appeal
> - may act as an intermediate window to spawn a separate Java application
> Some Cons:
> - biggest problem is that many users will lose this window, a problem over
> and above typical windows management since this browser behavior is
> relatively new
> - back may not work as expected in the mind of the user
> - with most browsers, no control over the default position or dynamic sizing
> according to total available real-estate
> - no setting to create window that is a modal dialog; many browsers do not
> support window focusing methods
> - some browsers disallow control of closing window instances without a
> confirmation dialog preventing window clean-up
> - one some platforms this represents a memory leak
> - window to window communication can be weak and create dependencies that
> cause JScript errors
>         I've yet to design a seperate window spawning for anything other than an
> "About Box" or (begrudgingly) the help system.
>         Roger.
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)
> > [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of Steve Fouts
> > Sent: Tuesday, August 25, 1998 2:15 PM
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Subject: Spawning New Windows: Evil or not
> >
> >
> > My gut feeling is that spawning a new browser window is something best
> > avoided because it violates the "user in control" idea, but I haven't
> > tested the effect it has on people's experience with a site. Does
> > anyone have comments, pro or con?
> >     _______________   _____
> >    /  ___  __/__\  \ /  / _\    Steve Fouts [log in to unmask]
> >   /___ \|  |  ___\  |  /  __\               [log in to unmask]
> >  /   /  \  |      \   /      \              [log in to unmask]
> > /_______/__|_______\_/________\
> >