I am Jeremy Epling, a Program Manager on the IE User Experience team. One of my foci for IE7 has been improving the Favorites and History experience. I want to tell you about the new features we added and the motivation that was behind them.
The IE6 experience for managing your Favorites and History is fairly disjoint and inconsistent. In IE7 we wanted to address these issues as well as make sure that we had a great experience between Tabs and Favorites.
Favorites and History issues in IE6
- Favorites and History entry points are scattered across the IE6 frame
- Cascading menus are difficult to navigate
- History can only be access via persistent Explorer Bar
One place for navigating to your Favorites, Feeds, and History
You can now add, manage, and navigate to your Favorites, Feeds, and History from one location as opposed to the 3 separate locations in IE6. We also allow you flexibility in how you want to navigate to your “Web memory” (i.e. Favorites, Feeds, and History). You can now access all of these “Web memory” locations by using an autohiding menu or as a docked sidebar.
We have also unified adding to your “Web memory”. You can now go the plus button, next to the Favorites Center star, to add a Favorite/Tab Group to Favorites or Subscribe to a web feed. You don’t need to distinguish between the types of content you are viewing on the Web. All you need to do is click the Plus button when you want to store what are viewing for later recall.
Just click the Favorites Center star to open the Favorites Center in menu mode and then select your view: Favorites, Feeds, or History. If you want dock the Favorites Center, all you need to do is press the dock button to the right of the History button.
No more disappearing menus when looking for a Favorite
The Favorites Center’s collapsible tree list is a usability improvement because it does not have the problem of disappearing when the user is navigating hierarchies of folders. It was easy for the IE6 Favorites menu to disappear because you moved the cusor 1 pixel out side of the menu. Many users found this annoying, which is why we have moved to the tree. The tree also makes navigating deep hierarchies more space efficient because you don’t have menus popping out and taking up a lot of horizontal space.
Open in Tabs made easy
One of my favorite features in IE7 is the Open in Tabs hover button. I like it because it helps to make Tabs available to the basic users that will never learn CTRL + click. This feature, along with having Tabs on by default, and the New Tab button will help everyone take advantage of tabs. (We will offer the Open in Tab hover button for individual Favorites in Beta 2-- in the IE7 Beta Preview build, the hover button offers the Delete action). For our final release IE7 will also have a warning dialog for folders that contain more that 30 Favorites to help prevent accidentally opening 50 Favorites in Tab.
Streamlined Add to Favorites dialog
Besides making it easier to add to your “web memory”, we have given the Add to Favorites dialog a facelift. Besides just looking better, the combobox for choosing a folder now allows you to see more folders at once and not have to expand the hierarchy to find the target folder.
- Jeremy Epling, Internet Explorer Program Manager