Rich User Experiences For The Win!!

This week’s blog, boys and girls is on the fourth pattern in Tim O’Reilly’s “Design Patterns and Business Models”

Firstly let’s cover the terms that will be covered in the blog. Rich User Experiences refer to the combination of GUI -style (Graphical User Interface) applications and multimedia content.

The overall value of the creation of a web based application that utilises platforms to give the user an experience similar to that of computer based application is a growing need in the world of Web 2.0. A collection of technologies that is integral and a key component to this type of experience is AJAX. AJAX which stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML is a collection of technologies used together to create a rich user experience.
When you hear the term Rich Internet Applications (RIA’s) they are referring to the web-based applications that have many features/characteristics of a desktop application which are generally hosted via a web page using different types of browser plug-ins such as Adobe Flash, Java and Microsoft Silverlight. The key element that makes these applications so successful is their ability to combine the best elements of a desktop interface with web pages which therefore generate a richer user experience not to mention a engaging experience that improves user satisfaction and increases productivity.
 

Gmail which is of course Google’s online email application facilitates a rich user experience similar to that of a desktop mail program, but with being accessible from anywhere and having strong database search ability. Created in 2004 With the design intent for web-based use, large storage space and a powerful search tool.

Another service that provides a rich user experience along with a powerful community of sharing and visual dialogue through a RIA is Flickr, a photo organizer, poster, and comment gatherer which was also started in 2004.

Not only is this used by users to share and embed personal photographs, the service is widely used by bloggers to host images that they embed in blogs and social media. Flickr is another perfect example of utilizing Web 2.0 to create a Rich User Experience. 

I myself cannot predict where the web will be in years from now, but one thing that is for sure is that Rich Internet Applications will only continue to grow and play a large role in forming the web.  In the not to distant future, I believe that there really will be no distinction between “browser based apps” and “desktop apps”, however I don’t believe one or the other will die or win, but more a mixture of both is what really makes the next generation of software compelling.

References:

O’Reilly. Tim (2005) Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software. Retrieved March 29th from, http://oreilly.com/pub/a/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html?page=5

Ward. James (2007) What is a Rich Internet Application? Retrieved March 29th from, http://www.jamesward.com/2007/10/17/what-is-a-rich-internet-application/

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13 Comments

Filed under Web 2.0

13 responses to “Rich User Experiences For The Win!!

  1. Great Read, I had a difficulties understanding this pattern of web 2.0 application, however, from your post I have now a basic understanding of this pattern. I like the way you explained this and provided a well-known example of websites that are using this patterns. thanks

    • I’m glad it helped explained the topic a little clearier for you Jaroodi. Although everyday we are using Rich Internet Applications, and enjoying a vast array of Rich User Experience, like most things we do it without really thinking about how it all works, as long as it does!

  2. Flickr and Gmail are prime examples of bringing desktop applications on to the web. I am a big user of gmail and rarely use offline email services. You said that you do not think that desktop applications will die. By this do you mean that software applications will still be designed for offline use? And what do yo use see as there major advantages going into the future? kind regards.

    • yeah offline application would still be available because the older generations and the fear of change. here is an interesting article u should have a look at
      http://www.digitalweb.com/articles/usability_for_rich_internet_applications/

    • It really depends on the application, for example when you look at the two examples I provided (Gmail and Flickr). Both require an internet connection, what happens if you need to access an older email or photo, but your ISP is down? And for example a product like Photoshop is much more powerful than internet based photo editing software, so until we have reached the point when internet based applications are 100% as powerful and reliable, I think there will always be room for Desktop apps.

      • I have to admit I share your belief that desktop apps are destined for extension. I think they’ll share the fate of the commodore 64s: we’ll view them with nostalgic affection. While I can see we’re a long way from getting their, the benefits of internet applications and software as a service means that general users and enterprise users are increasingly moving away from desktop apps. Photoshop and other CPU intensive applications may end up on specialist devices, or it maybe that they’ll be the rearguard of the switch to internet applications.

      • zhuoranzhang

        In my opinion, the reason why people want to use web application is they do not want to bring a store device with them, and they can easily access and edit their data anytime and anywhere. so, nowadays, the light laptop, small high-capacity store device and high performance CPU are the competitor of web application. Therefore, I think web application cannot replace desktop application in next few years。

  3. I definitely agree that internet applications are growing in popularity over the standard desktop apps, but as mentioned until things are more robust in terms of internet connections and functionality, I don’t think we will see them die off any time soon…

  4. I agree that Gmail has a rich user interface too. It has evolved from that really simple email application a few years back to the current one which looks really good and much more interactive. And also being to attach labels and stuff.

  5. How do you see Tablets and Smartphones fit into the picture? I just upgraded my phone which has the latest android OS, when you browse articles there is a button that lets you just display the text so you can read it easier. Technically this is a RUE to me however from a technical standpoint it is dumbing down a website as it get’s rid of links etc. I am not sure how this will all pan out. I do agree that internet connections need to be more robust for any internet only app to flourish.

    • Well that’s definitely RUE, when you provide the user with the ability to view something easier on a smaller device, I don’t think its necessarily dumbing it down though, just enabling you to focus on a particular spot on the screen, I think this feature would also work with a desktop PC to block out all the annoying adds floating around the screen.

  6. Check out Windows 8 to see what the next generation of software will be.like. Desktop apps will be around a while longer but they will morph into something unrecognizable from how they are viewed today methinks.

    • Agreed 100%, I think we are still a bit off in terms of complete extinction of desktop apps, but they will definitely evolve it something different! I will check out Windows 8, it sounds interesting!

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