Addressing a Web Page

I work in the software industry. I also have a large circle of people who rely on me for computer support. I’m occasionally reminded of the things I take for granted as common knowledge that really do not fit that category.


One of these is the method people use to navigate the web. For me, ctrl+o or alt+d and the web address of choice are second nature when web surfing. Yet I encounter numerous people with a different surfing method.


Tonight for example during a telephone support call, I learned that one person’s navigation strategy involved closing the browser after reading each web page. When asked why this method was used, the person replied, “I thought that’s how it worked.”


I really wonder how many other people think this. We need to do better in software design to help people understand even these basic uses. Here’s hoping the person I spoke with tonight, who now knows how to get to this blog, remembers how the address bar works.

One thought on “Addressing a Web Page”

  1. Hi Kelly,
    Working in the field of human computer interaction I couldn’t agree more with your comment that we need to do more to address these sort of problems. Most software is still far too difficult for people to use and this causes all sorts of problems.
    To address the specific problem that you mentioned related to web browsers, I think that the problem has two elements. I get the impression that the person first of all didn’t know that they could change web pages within a browser but more importantly I also get the impression that the person didn’t know how to invoke this process; clicking in the address bar, pressing ctrl + o, or pressing alt + d aren’t obvious entry points to invoke a process. Part of the problem is that these entry points aren’t visible, and so there is nothing in the UI that says ‘click me to look at a different web page’; therefore, because people don’t see something that says it does what they want to do they think they can’t do it. A way around it might be to have a button in the toolbar that’s labelled something like ‘load a different web page’. This button could do something as simple as load the ctrl + o dialog. That way when people scan a web browser’s set of controls to work out what functionality the web browser has they will see that as part of that set of functionality the web browser can load a different web page.

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