There seems to be a recent fascination going around about re-creating the desktop online.
Unfortunately, most people are trying to model these desktop recreations after Windows circa 1995 UIs. They claim that this makes their application usable, and friendly.
Familiarity is a very weak form of accessibility. It requires pre-existing knowledge, which may or may not be available to the user.
One major problem – and I’m sure most of you will agree – with this; Microsoft isn’t all that good at accessibility.
Unfortunately, the alternatives (OSX, Gnome, KDE) aren’t much better, though OSX is IMO the one with the best usability, its still not perfect.
A common theme in these desktop-recreations is to place the “Start” menu at the top. I’m sure a reason for this is that its a lot easier to constrain a page at the top, and there are various IE bugs which make it hard to force an element to stay at the bottom. Especially, if you play with the font sizes.
This completely defeats the familiarity aspect, all of a sudden, its backwards. OK, so OSX users and often Gnome users like myself will have their “Start” menu at the top (yes, I’m aware thats not the name are fine with it but you’ve just made it awkward for upto 80-90% of your audience.
Please, people, lets try to move on, we have so much more flexibility with the web UI, lets try to better past attempts and create something which whilst it doesn’t have that “familiarity” element, is immediately intuitive.
A common excuse for sticking with the “Windows” interface, is “Its what the (client|boss) wants”. Well, it is your job to educate your client, or your boss. They will appreciate it at the end of the end of the day – I promise.
Yes, its some times hard to get through to these people, thats why you need to bring up these arguments I just made, and you need to provide alternative concepts. If you’re using CSS-P properly, making the changes won’t require too much work. And if it does take some work, think about your final outcome – a great Resume, or a very happy boss (which could lead to a raise, promotion and/or bonus
Don’t let those with less knowledge dictate where the web goes, they are hiring you because you know what you’re doing, don’t blindly follow just to please, it will always backfire (“Oh, that was made by the previous guy, yes, its crap, we need you to change it”)