Pulse UX had a piece on Google Chrome (the browser I’m currently using to browse the web) in late 2008 that becomes more interesting every time I read it. After thinking about the piece for some times, it comes to two general conclusions: Google Chrome is not a well designed browser, but then Google Chrome is not primarily a browser at all.
The point about the danger of starting-from-scratch is obvious enough:
What does Google Chrome mean for the future of user experience design?
In an article by Steven Levy, from the October 2008 issue of WIRED magazine title: â€œInside Chrome: The Secret Project to Crush IE and Remake the Webâ€ the developers of Chrome described how they approached the UX design problem for their new â€œworld-beatingâ€ browser. In part they described the UX design methodology as follows.
â€œWhen deciding what buttons and features to include, the team began with the mental exercise of eliminating everything, then figuring out what to restore.â€
Whoa!â€¦that IS an interesting UX design methodology. The problem is that the Google UX process ignored almost entirely the past 25 years of cognitive science and related skill acquisition theory. The Google Chrome UX design methodology created, to a significant extent, the perplexing complexity of Chrome by ignoring several billion â€œperson-hoursâ€ of prior experience that users accrued with established browser interaction models. Arbitrarily deciding what to leave out or include in terms of features and functions isâ€¦how shall we sayâ€¦1950â€™s UX design.
… and dovetails nicely to my thoughts on the science and art of user experience research. However, the Pulse UX piece then convincingly argues that the primary purpose of Google Chrome is to be a rendering engine for Google Docs and other software in the cloud. Thus, Google Chrome is not a competitor to Microsoft Internet Explorer so much as a competitor to Microsoft Live Mesh.
The post is fascinating. The “art” of Chrome’s long-term strategy, and the science of measuring user experience, tie together nicely. Read the whole thing.