Finding the Right Web Apps For You

By: Jon Caldwell

One major difference of web application use from traditional application use is the inherent delays in navigating from one web application page to another. These delays are typically caused by network traffic and computation. It takes more time to serve the pages to the browser if the web server is on a distant network and computing data (calculations, data-sorting, etc.) also prolongs the waiting time for web application users. Fortunately, there are some ways through which users can lessen the delays which specifically result from working on a public network:

• Control the infrastructure by making an intranet rather than using the public internet.
• Using smaller graphics and lesser pages can minimize page loading time.
• Reduces errors and overall task time by making navigation easier and clearer.

Staying connected with people is one distinctive characteristic of this generation. With mobile phones and computers everywhere, there's no reason for someone to not get involved in other people's lives. And this is where instant messaging comes in, people wanting to be constantly connected with each other. Hence, it's no wonder that Meebo became such a huge hit by offering instant messaging service to users through multiple instant messaging platforms. Whether you're using a public computer or your mobile phone, you can now access AOL's AIM, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger through http://Meebo.com. The good thing with Meebo is that it automatically saves your message history so that you can still check your previous conversations. Overall, Meebo is an easy way to keep updated with the latest news on your buddies.

Knowing the difference between the application and the browser can greatly aid users in easy Web navigation. Always remember that the browser is the one which displays the data on each page and that a back button is normally found in it. This button, when clicked, re-displays the pages, but it does not mean that the current state of the application is being reversed. Likewise, clicking the Forward button is also not the same with having to do a Redo command on the application. Hence, users must be provided with links or toolbars and menus within the application to allow them to easily navigate according to the task they need to perform.

Nothing beats a customized home page uniquely arranged to include everything that one wants to immediately see once they log in. A customized home page makes you feel like everything you need to see right away is easily accessible with just one click. Using Netvibes as your startpage, you can now customize your homepage to include Atom/RSS feeds, multiple search engines, to-do notes, email, local weather forecasts, a calendar, a word processor and many more. You can also choose the way your Netvibes page looks like by uploading your own design or by choosing from available themes. Since its launch on September 15, 2005, Netvibes has become one of the most popular personalized homepage, being translated in different languages.

Web applications are normally more complicated than desktop applications and users can easily get lost in the huge amount of information displayed to them. Luckily, there are ways in which web applications can be structured to help easy navigation:

• Arrange information - Try linking all pages on the site to each other and provide links to important information on your site.

• Use navigational aids - A clear and consistent page design can help users track where they are and where they can go from their current location.

• Create a unique URL for each page - A unique URL for each page lessens the hassle of losing unsaved data caused by reloading pages.

• Use hypertext indexes and help systems - This can help users manage tasks by giving them quick access to information and help guides.

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