Usable Internet

The Internet is very powerful. Despite it’s ability and usefulness as a tool, recent trends and standards have rendered this globally available and enhancing technology into a space that is unpredictable and frustrating from a user experience.

Petition for a Usable Internet

The Internet is very powerful. Despite it’s ability and usefulness as a tool, recent trends and standards have rendered this globally available and enhancing technology into a space that is unpredictable and frustrating from a user experience. In particular, I will be addressing the rise in uninitiated user interface shifts and pop-ups, overinflation of importance of site-specific notifications, complexity of interface, and what appears to be a growing nonchalance for building working software by the web developers.

Usable Internet is good for user experience. Good user experience is good for the community.

No More Pop-Ups

The user interface of the modern internet is filled with jump scares. These are elements which come into view due to some event not initiated by the internet user. This practice creates strain on the daily energy of the internet user. For the internet to be usable for all individuals, the minimization of pop-ups and uninitiated messages must be a goal.

As a generalization, a pop-up can be described as an element which appears on screen which originated without the user’s intent. Sometimes these elements are informational and other times they serve advertising or other purposes. Examples of this behavior are advertisements which block main content after some invisible trigger such as time on page, user guides which force the user through a series of clicks around the page to gain targeted information, and browser controls.

Graphical elements should only display due to user intent and indication.

The Surprise of Pop-Ups

Pop-ups impact a human’s attention. These elements are definitionally made to take the user by surprise, show them something they weren’t yet considering, and force additional user interaction to clear the distraction from the page. A user’s attention is theirs, and pop-ups violate this boundary of decision by imposing elements due to some non-user interaction. This isn’t good for an individual’s hourly energy. The impact over the cumulative population must then be non-negative and much higher than it could be, and we petition should be.

To accomplish the reduction of these surprising elements, we urge webmasters to take into consideration the impact of such experiences to even one user with the understanding that one website is only one of a fabric of sites a person visits in a day. Not only is the internet used by a large percent of the population, it is frequented throughout the day for an individual. The average internet user visits 130 websites in a day. If each of these sites puts up an intrusive element, that individual has been perterbed 130 times.

Stop sending surprising messages. It’s not good for user experience. Bad user experience is bad for the community.

Cool the Notifications

As a web developer, it is easy to send a message to the user’s interface. It must be clearly decided that web developers should not abuse this privelege. This is a matter of an individual being the decider of their attention. The prevalence of notifications pop-ups is most notable on websites which brand themselves social media or a marketplace.

Typically, notifications appear to keep the user up to date with the newest information. They contain messages like “He liked your post” and “This item was just purchased for so many dollars.” The goal of these informationals is to keep the user interacting on the site for longer. Ostensibly, this would increase the site owner’s revenue or at least appease their attention-seeking.

This practice takes a toll on individual and cumulative attention. Every instant something like this happens, a person’s attention is dragged away from their intended task on hand. Within the internet user population, this practice only serves users who want to be distracted. This is a small subset of the userbase of the internet, and the practice should be confined to an equally small web development niche.

The insidious nature of the practice of over-notification has been masked by an almost plausible drive for capitalistic gains. Yet this petition states that the negative impact to collective individual attention and energy outweighs any single-entity gains, where a single-entity is a person or corporation.

The driving principle here is to only show the user what they indicate they want to see.

Stop Signaling Untrue Importance

Colors trigger human emotions. This is a known principle for designers. The science of color is a well-researched field. The understanding of why a website would use red to display an error message is well documented. What is not usually taken into account is a given user browses many websites in a day, and the cumulative effect of such attention-grabbing messaging dilutes the understanding of priority. Here, the effect of pop-ups is an element of confusing of importance. As an avid internet user, I can confirm it is exhausting having to decipher what’s important of the various messages and notifications.

What can be a solution here? It is obvious that a site owner in incentivised to take advantage of modern color theory. Yet, even with existing color theory, a user should not be inundated with meassages disagreeing with their individual importance barometer.

Familiar examples of this intrusion are the common sites of forms prematurely displaying error messaging and the use of banner messages. Othen these banner messages seek to grab the users attention, and require a user action to dismiss. This includes those cookie banners which are actually governmentally required.

What’s important to the user is the purpose for which they come to the website. The instances of flashy messaging and banner overlays requiring interaction are a betrayal of user trust in that they reduce attention and increase friction.

A Usable Internet respects the end user’s goals. This increase of user trust is in the site owner’s favor moreso than using the tactic of interference to attempt to coax the user out of their initial intentment toward site owner gratification. All new messaging should occur only after a user initiates the action.

Reduce the Complexity of Interface

A Userable Interface has controls that the user understands. One particularly cool aspect of the invention of the internet and websites, is that the developer is in control of the layout and presentation of the screen. This ability has turned into a double-edge as we have reached the age where we have become over-inventive on how common elements are displayed.

A Userable Interface for the Internet has standardization for common user interface elements.

No More Cryptic Symbols

The term “cryptic” here is used to reference the multiplicity of symbology found in on the screens of different websites. This primarily refers to icons used for interactble elements. This complication increases time to comprehension for the various sites and applications. Given 130 website visits in a day, a user is forced to associate and save to memory multiple icons for the same intention.

There should be a standard library for common user interface functions. The impact of this library will be seen in speed of accomplishment for the user and a reduction of working memory necessity. This measurement may be amorphous, yet the qualitative experience of the human users will become less confusing and more efficient.

A more Usable Internet implements a standard library for common elements across web owner boundaries.

Stop The Layering Effect

All internet websites are browsed on a two-dimensional screen. The outliers of this statements are so small in count, we are confident in this generalizing statement. The screen is two dimensional. Stop adding a bunch of layers on things.

The presence of a faux “third” dimension is surprising in that the software does not resemble the hardware.

We conducted a study asking users to complete a Cognitive Checking Quiz after browsing a set webflow. Half of the users when through a two-dimensional flow, while the other half went through similar screens presented using stacking modals.

The users who browsed two-dimensional interface performed 66% better on the exam with an average score of 10, while the modal-viewers averages a 6.

We feel the call to reduce the layering effect is obvious. Yet there still os the open question of “What exactly is this effect?” We believe it is an exhaustion of attention. While at one time it became the trend to keep a user on view while displaying new messages in overlapping containers, this trend must end.

A reduction in modals, pop-overs, and fixed navigation elements will increase the productivity potentional population wide.

No More General Brokenness

General brokenness renders many modern sites on the internet unusable. This feature of the unusable internet is a compounding of out-of-date marketing messaging and overly-complicated, fragile front-end systems. A non-working systems is known for a user not being able to accomplish the purpose for which they come to the website.

This usability concern is obviously a frustrating experience, but the effect is more than the mental load of frustration. The inability to accomplish a task completely derails the user’s plan of progress. Trust is betrayed and the presentation to the user is the demonstration of an untrustworthy world.

The internet is a powerful tool, and the efficacy of human potential should not be derailed by renegade developers. Whether this is a skill issue or purely sloppy, and organization of standards should be recorded. Sites should be held to this standard for the efficacy of individual intention and the reduction of frusteration.

On the Usable Internet, every website’s software is working as promised. All messaging should reflect the current nature of the provided goods and services.

Reduce Visual Stimulation

In Petition for a Usable Internet, we bring about the use of non-uniform symbology and the time waste and mental friction which comes from such elements. As well, we named the design trend of pop-ups, slicing, and otherwise displaying items in a layered effect. The general term when encapsulates these on-page treatments is Visual Stimulation.

In the drive for perceptually engaging interfaces, designers have leaned too heavily on making visual elements which provide no functional use, and could only be present for the purpose of being eye-candy. Devoid of functional meaning, these icons represent, at best, an underutilization of space. A more true statement is that the iconography can be the cause of mental friction if it is distracting.

Reduction of screen area devoted to visual, or any perceptual, distraction is a key component to providing a Usable Internet. A valuable internet can be produced which has no visual elements at all. A prudent addition of visuals should enhance capabilities of the page and thereby the user of the internet.

An image or treatment chosen for aesthetic purposes immediately destroys consistent general population’s use of the page. The reason is simple: aesthetics are opinionated. Where the user has approached to partake of the agreed upon function, the webpage presents an opinion. This phenomenon is doubly unfortunate when paired with inability to access functionality due to other usability concerns such as General Brokenness (see the petition).

A Useable Internet

The internet is a ubiquitous presence in our lives. It shouldn’t be a drag or an irritant. It shouldn’t provide exhaustion to browse, and it should present elements that startle the perceptually sensitive. A Useable Internet corrects modern trends which squander valuable cognitive energy. In doing so, the mentality of millions will see an ease.

This a valuable purpose. The easing of daily being is a valuable purpose, and change is due.

A Usable Internet Petition

The Usable Internet Petition should be raised to the level of International Standardization. The impact of implementing what is presented here will demonstrably increase the mental health and ability of every impacted internet user. The reduction of layering modalities alone will see an increase of mental ability of 66%. Please sign this petition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *