What Does a Good Web Application Look Like? Part 1: User Point of View

Head of Products and Services at ELEKS

often say that software is “good” when they are satisfied with it. But it is tricky to describe what are objective criteria for “good” software. Moreover, it may mean absolutely different things for various people. Recently we’ve asked ourselves how do we see ideal web application. What characteristics should it have? What is important and what isn’t?
We prepared short list of characteristics that we think should be here for almost any web application that pretends to be called “good”. We divided this list into three parts. Today we would like to share first part of this list – how does application look like from user point of view.

So, what is important for users?

  1. Usability. By usability people usually mean ease of use and learnability for user. If you have poor usability in your enterprise system you have to spend lots of time and money to train your users and even it may not help. For consumer market poor usability usually means you lost lots of users just because they don’t understand how to use your system.
  2. Globalization. Ability to adapt to language and cultural specifics of various target markets. You don’t have to globalize your application if you target local market. But in case you have big plans for total world domination you have to take care about this.
  3. Multiplatform Optimization. Ability to operate efficiently on various platforms and browsers (including mobile). Ten years ago it was pretty easy to make your application available for almost any user. Simply because almost all of them were using Internet Explorer on their desktop PCs running Windows. Nowadays this is no longer the truth – you have to deal with various browsers on various operating systems running on various hardware. And don’t forget about native mobile clients for your service!
  4. Customizability. Ability to customize system UI and behavior according to particular user needs. Little bit controversial characteristic for web application. There are some people who say that you don’t have to allow users to customize your application, because users don’t actually know how it should look and behave like. But sometimes it is important to provide this sort of freedom to them.
  5. Responsiveness. Ability to respond to user interaction within a given time period. Nobody likes application that freezes after some action and don’t show any progress to a user. User should be able to interact with application even if it is performing some complex long running task at the moment. Sometimes it makes sense to change the way your application interact with user completely in order to make it more responsive.
  6. Bandwidth Awareness. Efficient usage of network channel between system and user. It is critical for big content-delivery services like YouTube. For those users who have fast connection it should show video with HD resolution, but for users that are connected through slow and expensive 3G it should consider to show video with less amount of traffic.
  7. Search Engine Friendliness. Ease of index by search engines, conformity with SEO best practices. If you want your service to be indexed by search engines you have to think about it from the very beginning. Correct usage of things like human-readable URLs, semantic markup and permalinks can be the differentiator for your service that puts it into first place on Google Search Result page.
  8. Social Media Integration. Integration with social networks: sharing, friends’ recommendations, etc. Social networks changed Web dramatically during last couple of years. If you deal with consumer market you should integrate at least with biggest social networks.
  9. Native web stack. Ability to run on browser without need to install any additional plug-ins. Users don’t want to install any additional software on their devices to run your application. Sometimes they even can’t, because of platform limitations (think iOS, for instance). So, you have to rely only on native web stack. Thankfully, HTML5 adoption is growing so fast.
  10. Accessibility. Ease of use for users with disabilities or specific needs. You should think about accessibility if you want to make your service available for every single person. You must to do it if you do, for instance, some e-government solution and accessibility is strict requirement for your system.

Next time we will tell you about things application developers and operation team are aware of. Stay tuned!

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Comments

  • An article about UX and good website with a bad UX – Lots of text dumped on a user and as a user, I am bored to read all that!!!

    And, Post a comment with section, linkedin icon’s :active state has a google plus icon – so when u click on it, it shows a blue G+ icon for a second!