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Topic: Why the addressbar acts the way it does (Read 2462 times)

  • Frenzie
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Why the addressbar acts the way it does
Quote from: Hallvord Steen
And the best brains in the industry have been struggling with this problem for a while, and eventually came up with the solution: highlight the most important part of the URL, hide parts that regular end users typically don't understand - all to help users figure out that all-important "what site is this really?" question.

[...]

I'm sorry to hear that you don't like the result. Many of us don't exactly love it either. But I do disagree with your insinuation that it is a bug - that wording is, to be frank, a bit of an insult. The new address bar is a feature we've thought long and hard about and spent man hours implementing. Because it's an important safety feature for regular users.

http://www.whatcouldbewrong.com/articles/1/welcome-to-your-site

I realize my anecdotal evidence is far from a usability study, but every user I've seen trying to use Opera 11+ was disturbed by the fact that it wasn't loading the page requested properly. On sites with large headers, or forum threads with a reasonably-sized OP, you'd just be seeing the same thing show up without any indication that you didn't merely refresh. Even I have on occasion been confused by this behavior if I forgot to turn it off. The thing is, no matter how "average" the user, just about everyone's been using the Internet for a decade.

Anyhoo, it's obviously not a bug, but it's definitely buggy. :right: It doesn't work with different color schemes, most importantly perhaps high contrast. Besides which, even on a white background my parents don't exactly have the easiest time reading the grayed out text. "Just select the addressbar," I say. "That doesn't make any sense," they'll reply. Indeed, it doesn't. Color contrast checking seems like a pretty basic thing one should perform on a feature such as this, as does testing some of Windows' built-in accessibility features.

Incidentally, I once made this mock-up of how the information could be presented better:

http://fransdejonge.com/2010/11/whats-wrong-with-the-opera-11-address-bar-and-how-to-fix-it/
http://fransdejonge.com/2010/12/opera-11-addressbar-revisited/

Looking at it now, I might add some padding on the sides of the domain name. Note that the query string part of my mock-up is really a separate thing.

  • j7n
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Re: Why the addressbar acts the way it does
Reply #1
ׂ
  • Last Edit: 2014-04-24, 05:41:01 by j7n

  • Frenzie
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Re: Why the addressbar acts the way it does
Reply #2
Color coding the parameters could be a nice optional feature to enhance the readability of extremely long query strings. I might use it. It's just like syntax highlighting and immediately recognizable. Just like graying, it should be optional.

Yup.
Extra padding around elements of the URL is not so good because it looks like spaces, which aren't really there. And if the field is no longer a line of text, that could decrease its rendering speed (however slightly) or cause clipping or overlapping of each padded element if the program is run under a strange UI theme.

Actually, you made me remember that I'd originally experimented padding and removed it again for that very reason. :D

One thing I didn't mention very clearly is that for me the hash is also a very important part of a URL. There's a big difference between https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Test_(Unix) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Test_(Unix)#Functions

  • jax
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Re: Why the addressbar acts the way it does
Reply #3
The change wasn't just for usability or aesthetics, but also for security. There were too many ways to spoof web site addresses. This approach, and the padlock and the rest, made it easier to see the important information, and harder to spoof it.

If you look at a longer URL it has some useful information, and a lot of gunk, some which is of interest to the site owner and not the user (e.g. which Facebook page that referred to it, or for searches that Opera should get percentages of search income). There is nothing implicit in a URL (outside the host address) that say that this piece of information is useful and that is not. Nothing that can't be subverted anyway. 

I think there is some cleverness unused in this field, but the problem with cleverness is that one day it is going to bite you. One such cleverness would be to take advantage of history, the parts of the URL that change when you go from one page to the next are more likely to be useful than the parts of the URL that don't.

  • ersi
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Re: Why the addressbar acts the way it does
Reply #4

If you look at a longer URL it has some useful information, and a lot of gunk, some which is of interest to the site owner and not the user (e.g. which Facebook page that referred to it, or for searches that Opera should get percentages of search income).
Do you mean to say that it's of no interest to the user if he's being tracked or exploited?


I think there is some cleverness unused in this field, but the problem with cleverness is that one day it is going to bite you. One such cleverness would be to take advantage of history, the parts of the URL that change when you go from one page to the next are more likely to be useful than the parts of the URL that don't.
Agreed. The original solution - one complete untouched string - has been the best all along.

  • j7n
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Re: Why the addressbar acts the way it does
Reply #5
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  • Last Edit: 2014-04-24, 05:37:54 by j7n