The UX of the Web

By | November 28, 2007

I love the Web.  I have loved it since Netscape 1.0 in 1994.  Here is why, in the form of two stories.

Thanksgiving, 1996,  there were not that many websites in general, but there were a bunch.  My step-mother said, “The internet is a fad.  Mark my words, it will be gone in a couple of years.”  That night at dinner, we had alot of people over my dad’s house for Thanksgiving dinner.  The discussion somehow got onto Kiri Te Kanawa, the opera singer and how old she was. My dad, in his infinite wisdom said, “If your internet is so special, why don’t you (me) find out the answer.  Primed for the challenge, I walked over to the computer and logged into AOL with our 28.8 modem.  Not only did Kiri have her own website at the time, she also had an email address for contact info.

I emailed her saying that my father was a big fan and we were discussing her work at the table.  She emailed me back within an hour.  Then my father had a several email discussion with her that night.  I was so proud.  The internet had not only triumphed, but spectacularly.  It exceeded expectations.  Not only did it answer her age (She will be 64 in March), but it connected my father to her in a totally unexpected and personal way.  Technology brought people together!

Did my father become a technology convert?  No.  But I always remembered that episode as the quintessential web experience.

The second story is shorter.  This morning my mother-in-law, the weaver, said that a tree had fallen down in her backyard. (Not the big one).   She emailed a few people asking, “Does anyone have any suggestions about fast growing trees?”  Of course, I attacked this challenge in the same way.  I entered “Fast growing trees” in the top right search box of my browser and clicks on the first google link.  Lo and Behold, there is a website called http://www.fast-growing-trees.com.  Can you guess what they sell?

I emailed her back with the Arapaho Crape Myrtle tree as a suggestion.  This website is great.  It’s specific.  It has just the right kind of data.  I can look up where it grows and how quickly.  It has pictures.  It is perfect.

The web can be frustrating sometimes when the answer isn’t obvious or a designer makes things hard.  However, sometimes, in fact most times, it is easy and pleasant.  I love the web.  The user experience is awesome.  I still remember my step-mother’s words and mark them well.

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