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We are a group designing a big project. Its main purpose is educational matters (we run an online quiz).

I have designed a desktop-like interface for the website with icons and a start menu. I just don't know how people would respond to the interface in the context of a website.

Would it be good to have two versions of the site, one regular site and another desktop like?

Should I stick to regular sites and never think about designing a desktop-like interface? what is your suggestions?

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I've seen many educational games designed much like this, especially in the early nineties. –  Ben Brocka Dec 22 '11 at 14:31
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These are questions that you really should ask yourself really.

Are there any benefits with designing the web application as a desktop? The reason the desktop looks the way it does is because it has to hold large amounts of information, features, applications etc. meaning that it has to be ordered in a very organized way for the user to be able navigate efficiently. Websites don't hold nearly as much content, which is why everything usually is visible from anywhere, depth < 2 etc.

Designing a web application to have the look and feel as a desktop might seam like a neat idea, but is there any point to it usability wise?

If not I would suggest you drop the desktop idea all together and go with designing a rich web version. Designing two versions of what you describe being "a big project" would be very time consuming and could very possibly result into two inadequate applications instead of one great application.

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thanks @AndroidHustle, Actually we really thought about its usability. one of the reason we wanted to design like this is that there are some students which do not have much experience with websites, but they all have used their PC. tnx again. –  UX-Geek Dec 22 '11 at 15:10
    
@webdesigner I can appreciate that, if that is the case. What age is the focus group? The reason I'm asking is because a survey published by the European Commission in late 2010 states that "the average age of first internet use is seven in Denmark and Sweden and eight in several Northern European countries. Across all countries, one third of 9-10 year olds who use the internet go online daily, this rising to 80% of 15-16 year olds". So assuming that your focus group has a low Internet experience might be a bit hasty.. =) –  AndroidHustle Dec 22 '11 at 15:37
    
Actually @AndroidHustle it ranges from 14 to 25 –  UX-Geek Dec 22 '11 at 15:40
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I would think a website that looks like a desktop would add confusion to the end user, especially non-experienced ones. Having two start menus on the screen: one from my "actual" desktop and one from your website would be awkward.

If it's a web application, then it is best to design it for that environment.

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Personally, I believe there is design, and there is user experience -- it does NOT matter if the design is for what medium or usage, as long as the end-user can easily do the task in an intuitive way without any difficulty then you can consider it done.

IMHO -- more and more desktop apps are looking and behaving more like web apps and users are OK with it.

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