Firefox URL Bar

Lakin Wecker lakin.wecker at
Wed Jan 4 22:44:34 GMT 2006

To start, I should clarify some things about my way of thinking.  First,
many of the beginner-intermediate users that I know, and some of the
advanced ones (My boss, My parents, and 3 of my siblings), have great
trouble memorizing shortcuts, even with a mnemonic.    My boss for example,
is an excel expert.  But he can't remember where he left his glasses 5
minutes ago, let alone a keyboard shortcut.  He also can never remember the
difference between a single-click or a double-click; he has better things to
think about.

Maybe we should really find out what most people expect the URL bar to do.
If most users want to edit URL's then we should leave the behavior as is.
If most users click the URL bar to replace it, then we should default to a
single click selects all behavior.

> It is not arbitrary. l is for location.

True.  Arbitrary is bad word to describe what I meant.  What I really mean
is that for many of the beginner to advanced users that I know cannot
remember keyboard shortcuts.

> The reason I do not use it, is that most people I know will not know
> > about this shortcut, or how to find this shortcut, and will be forced
> > to use the old, inefficient way to replace URLs.   I am their
> > tech-support, and when they call me, I want to know how to teach them
> > to do it in a way that is intuitive, and efficient.
> Ok, so you choose to do things in a way that is less efficient than it
> needs to be, so you can teach other people to do it in the same
> less-efficient way? That seems odd to me, to be honest.

Not entirely. I am the only person in my family who is not dyslexic, and can
remember keyboard shortcuts.  So, in order to help them out, I need to know
how to do everything with a mouse.  Remember, some people have a much easier
time remember _where_ things are, rather than _what_ things are.  I
understand that these people might represent a minority, but this isn't an
argument that we should design everything for these people, rather, we
should have an equally efficient way of doing things with the mouse.  And I
don't believe that the current situation is efficient for people who don't
edit URL's and don't know the shortcut.

> >         Editing URL:
> >         If you want to edit an URL, it is usually most efficient to
> >         use the
> >         mouse to select the part of the URL that needs to be
> >         removed/edited,
> >         then use the keyboard to make the correction. Ie. using the
> >         mouse is the
> >         natural thing here and it will normally pay off to remove one
> >         hand from
> >         the keyboard.
> >
> >
> > I really doubt that many average users edit URLS. This is typically
> > reserved to developers working on their own web-applications, or power
> > users who have found that they can navigate sites faster this way.
> I disagree. People who use an application more than once in a blue moon
> will get beyond the point of not knowing at all what happens and how to
> operate the application. Please see About Face 2.0: The Essentials of
> Interaction Design by Alan Cooper and Robert Reimann for some (in my
> opinion) good arguments why the interface of a sovereign application
> (like a web browser) should be optimized for the intermediate users
> rather than the beginners.

Most web applications designers that I know, strive to make their
applications easy and efficient enough to use that most people will not want
to edit their URL's.  I can't remember the last time I edited a URL, because
most of the web applications I use are designed such that editing the URL is
a less efficient way to do things:  google, gmail, google reader, or

Optimizing interfaces for intermediate users is fine.  However, being an
intermediate user or optimizing interfaces for intermediate users should not
mean that the user needs to read a manual, memorize shortcuts, or have an
advanced user teach them, in order for them to efficiently use an interface.

I think you do a disservice to the people you help by not helping them
> do their work in a better way rather than the beginner's way.

I think that "the better way" is relative to the skill set of each user.
The user's I refer to would consider a keyboard shortcut to be a terrible
way of doing things, because they'll never remember them, so they'll get
anything done with them.

This seems to be a major source of disagreement between the posters on this
thread: how many users edit URLs, compared the the number of users who
replace URL's.  I think this is an important piece of data, and we should
stop conjecturing about this and possibly collect some stats?

>         Replace URL:
> >         If you want to type in a new URL, it is more natural to use a
> >         keyboard
> >         shortcut (ctrl-l) to focus the URL-bar and then type the new
> >         address. No
> >         mouse involved, faster operation.
> >
> > Many of them will only use the URL bar to replace the URL.  Currently,
> > without the shortcut, the fastest way is to select the entire text in
> > the bar, which is time consuming if the URL is long, and also is very
> > annoying when your cursor moves to far below the URL bar while
> > highlighting(which results in nothing being highlighted).
> Yes it is. But there is no reason to argue that something is faster when
> you start out by assuming the faster ways may not be used. I might as
> well say that you'd be better off using lynx because browsing is faster
> in a text-only browser when you are not allowed to use the mouse.

You're right, that was a terrible argument, but I've covered why I exclude
keyboard shortcuts.  If you don't remember them, they don't work at all.
And searching for them and then using them is much slower than reverting to
selecting text with your mouse.

First off, I don't see anywhere that the Human Beings in the slogan
> means absolute beginners.

No, it means the majority of computer users.  Am I the only one who believes
that most users would benefit from not having to remember a set of keyboard
shortcuts in order to efficiently use their applications?

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