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I was observing my dad (who is pretty new to internet) using the browser (chrome). He had two main problems -

  1. Not knowing that one had to put the cursor in the text field and click in order to write there. What he did was just reading the message above text field and typing away without caring about where is it being typed. Also he did not look at the screen when typing.

  2. Double clicking fast. When he clicked on a link, nothing happens for some time (the page is loading, but he doesn't know that rotating symbol on the tab) and he thinks may be something is wrong and starts clicking the link again. Sometimes just as he does this, the new page opens, and he clicks something else on the new page.

Both these things are annoying. What UI solutions are best for these two issues?

  • Great question. Sounds like he is not used to the instant feedback and keyboard-to-screen coordination. This is common as he is coming from a mechanical age. Have you observed how he behaves with tablet browsing? My mom seems to take to it better as a point and tap interface and allows her to interact directly on the screen vs. via a remote input (physical keyboard). – Pdxd Aug 17 '14 at 5:31
  • @Pdxd no, he hasn't yet used a tablet. I will observe it now. If there were a game or something that made browsing easier for new people that'd be great. – user13107 Aug 17 '14 at 13:29
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    No matter his age, these are things that should only take a few minutes to learn and remember. Even if it took a full day of practice, and these really are the only issues, it's a one time thing and you can't do better than any modern browser. – Rob Nov 15 '14 at 14:02
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    Nothing is free, and intuitive learning doesn't exist. My best definition of easy intuitive interface is "Explain/Show one time, remember forever". – ColdCat Nov 15 '14 at 16:52
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Almost all user interfaces require some very basic computer literacy. Someone that has not worked on a computer before, will have some difficulty at the beginning. You can help these people to learn more easily by introducing redundant elements to your design, for example to answer your questions :

  1. You could add a help text in the text box “Click here and type”
  2. Next to the rotating symbol add text “Please wait. Loading page…”

But these elements will be very irritating and distracting to all other users.

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    A great UI would "show, not tell". I agree the feedback would more helpful but he's right that the learning curve is high for some. When the iPhone first came out, adoption and adaptation was fast and new users transitioned quickly. This could be a bigger question of "how to design systems for non computer literate users" and not just tied to browsing. – Pdxd Aug 17 '14 at 13:36
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It sounds like your dad is at least familiar with how to use a mouse (i.e. clicking the same link multiple times)

This is a good place to start as I have seen people try and use a mouse for the first time and it is amazing how awkward a mouse can be to a first time user. This is why I think it is much easier to use the internet on a tablet for people who didn't grow up using computers.

2013 was the year in which more people started connecting to the internet using something other than a desktop computer (smartphone, tablet, etc.)

This trend will continue as devices become more powerful and people realize how little they need/use their computer. The following ideas address the original question and should work equally well on a desktop or tablet computer (assuming the browser has access to a front facing camera).

1. Not knowing that one had to put the cursor in the text field and click

Most devices today have a built in camera on the front and eye-tracking technology is getting pretty good. It seems possible to set the focus of an input that the user is looking at. This action needs to cause as little friction as possible so it can't show/hide the on screen key board or anything like that. It would need to highlight the input with focus in such a way that the page layout doesn't shift at all. The camera could possibly look at your mouth as well and when your mouth is moving enter the text you are speaking into the highlighted field.

2. Double clicking fast

Currently when a link is tapped on an iPhone using chrome or safari a blue line is drawn across the top of the page to indicate progress. I think it would be hard to improve upon this and see no reason to do the same thing in a browser on a desktop. What you never want to do is block the page after a link is clicked because the user needs the freedom to continue scanning content and/or click a different link.

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