Rich user experiences: Gmail

What does richer user experiences mean? “Richer” in this context has two distinct meanings. The first one means a better-designed, more intuitive, and more user-friendly graphical user interface. The other means a cleaner interface, one that is not excessively crowded with options and links.

A number of the technologies in Web 2.0 aim to make the user interface more like that of a rich client. One is called AJAX, for Asynchronous Javascript And XML.It is a technology that allows dynamic replacement and updating of parts of a web page without requiring a full page refresh from the server.Ajax has same similarities as Flash, but it does not require a browser plug-in. AJAX technologies have been said to make web faster, more interactive, and more user-friendly.Ajax enables more interactive user actions, such as the drag-and-drop of user interface elements. An interesting AJAX Web 2.0 example is Gmail. Gmail user experience dynamically learns from customer behaviour, anticipates needs, remembers preferences, and adapts as appropriate.E.g Gmail automatically suggests email addresses based on a user’s email history.Chating with friends through Gmail, the chat history could be saved in Gmail. These personalization features are achieving through AJAX technology, therefore what is the more in the future?

The main advantages of AJAX include e.g. short page download times, smooth and interactive user interfaces which increase user satisfaction, a user interface that is always on view, transparent data transfer e.g. in the form of showing download progress, new kinds of interaction methods, and convenience-increasing functions such as predictive text input in text fields.
But there is one drawback. Pages dynamically created using successive AJAX requests do not automatically register themselves with the browser’s history engine, so clicking the browser’s “back” button may not return the browser to an earlier state of the Ajax-enabled page, but may instead return to the last full page visited before it.
Therefore Rich user interface features seem to improve the user experience by making the operations easier and faster to perform as shown above.

References
http://lib.tkk.fi/Dipl/2009/urn100111.pdf
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajax_(programming)
http://rallenhome.com/essays/essay4.html#_Toc122233559

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8 Responses to Rich user experiences: Gmail

  1. Max Chau says:

    Google has been bringing us more and more excellent experience for sure. I think one of the most exciting functionality for me is drag and drop things on a website. Thanks for the AJAX technology.
    I wouldn’t say AJAX is similar or a substitute of Flash. Since they are actually different technology, and they act differently. I prefer AJAX simply because it is more flexible, maintainable, and it is sufficient to produce instant feedback to users.

  2. empecee says:

    i mainly use gmail as a spam account (all those horrid facbook notifications and subcriptions) and use live for mor professional communications. now after reading this i wonder if i am not fully utilising gmails potentail.

    thank you for giving me something to ponder about

  3. Hear about Google’s next idea: Google Motion.

    • Steve Aw says:

      Thats an awesome april foo joke, i almost believed it.
      Google Motion might be possible just like the Microsoft Kinect, its just the matter of time. But not with weird hand gesture tho…

  4. Dean Jackson says:

    I Like the Gmail interface and do use it occasionally but think that the main use for Gmail is using it as a service. 90% of the email I receive on my gmail account is read and replied to through outlook on my computer.

    So Yes i agree that Gmail has a good user interface but do you believe that people use it for this feature?

    • xxlesliexx says:

      Probably so, as i believe not all the people use gmail for the same reason. Good user interface could be one of the reason. For me, i used it just because i used Gmail documents quite often for my assignments and also the interface is simple to use.

      • I use gmail over outlook every time. I never have to set it up. The cascading conversations are great. The search is great. The tagging is awesome. I have 3 gmail accounts all being redirected to one inbox. And I even use it for my own john@johnwilkinsonmusic.com email which I set up through google applications. So yeah, the interface does everything I need. I can even incorporate my remember the milk to do list in with it, not that I do because it is already on my igoogle page, which I did a review of at http://www.johnwilkinsonmusic.com/web2 . But if I wanted to… I could! gmail rocks my world

      • Max Chau says:

        I also use Google docs a lot for my assignments 🙂
        It is great and collaborative with its realtime synchronization.

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