How We Evaluate the Experiences We Engineer

How do you know when an experience is ready for consumers? This is something we ask ourselves all the time. In this post, we’ll cover how we set our experience goals for IE9 and how we measured (and continue to measure) our progress toward these goals throughout the development cycle.

We set experience goals for all of the products we ship. These goals are at the product and “experience” (i.e., a meaningful unit of experience for people, not at the feature level) levels of analysis. We think about these goals in what we call a “Confidence Model.” This is a model that evaluates the product experiences across four dimensions – Useful, Usable, Desirable, and Principled. For each experience across each dimension, we have a “confidence rating” of how close we are to meeting (or exceeding) the experience goals. The dimensions of useful, usable, and desirable are common measures of experience across industries. In addition to those standards, we also evaluate our experiences in light of the Windows Experience Principles (more on these later). This is all an evolution of our process that we described in the Windows 7 Engineering Blog.

What we mean by “Useful, Usable, Desirable, and Principled”

When we think of experiences on these four dimensions, we have specific definitions in mind:

Useful” is the notion of value to people. We want the experiences in IE9 to help people do something they couldn’t do before, save them time, energy, and/or effort, and have things get noticeably better in a way that matters to people.

Usable” is what people typically think about when considering the “usability” of a product, site, device, etc. We measure how Usable an experience is on the standard factors – task success, time to completion, ease of use/setup, comprehension, confidence, security, etc.

Desirable” is how an experience evokes the intended emotional response and perception. We have general aspirations for any experience (e.g., love) but then choose specific emotions each experience should elicit (e.g., feelings of control, efficiency, connectedness, clean).

Principled” is how an experience expresses the Windows Experience Principles. We review each experience at regular points in the development cycle to make sure it is expressing our Principles. These principles are inspired by data, informed by our values, and tweaked by experience. They are not strict rules, but rather values we aspire to and shape all the experiences we design in our products. We first talked about our “design principles” for Windows 7 back at PDC 2008. Since then, we have evolved these into our current Experience Principles. Later in this post, we’ll cover how we used one of the principles to inform a design decision in IE9.

How we set and track goals

Across those four dimensions, we set goals for each of a set of experiences. These goals have multiple inputs including previous experience research, design explorations, and technical investigations. The goals are generated, iterated on, and agreed upon by the entire engineering team. They become the team-wide agreement of “what success looks like” for an experience and the bar we all hold ourselves to. We then establish specific metrics for tracking progress toward each goal.

For example, we had specific Useful goals for some of the general browsing experiences: People articulate the value of having a fast and fluid browsing experience as:

  • They can get to their sites in fewer steps than in previous versions of IE
  • They see that pages load faster than previous versions of IE
  • They save time on their common and frequent tasks compared to with previous versions of IE
  • They are aware of what is slowing down their experience

Progress toward these goals is measured primarily through qualitative feedback from participants in our research labs and also through community feedback.

After goals for each experience are set, we track them throughout the development cycle. For IE9, as with all our products, we used a large set of methods in our research, but there are three we rely on the most – lab studies, field research (e.g., visits to people’s homes) and usage instrumentation. Each of these methods has their own strengths and they give us different lenses to look at and understand the experiences we are building. During IE9 development, we conducted six different lab studies with about 60 different participants. These lab studies are great for understanding experiences as we moved from prototypes to working code and allowed us to control for whatever influences may bias our results. In addition to the lab studies, we also went on many site visits to people’s homes to give us a look at their experiences over time, in everyday settings (e.g., their living rooms), and produce specific examples of how people actually use our products in their lives. The insights we gained on our initial site visits in the summer of 2009 around how people were using web sites like their other applications was highly influential on our plans to build what eventually became Pinned Sites. Lastly, usage instrumentation of how people are currently using IE8 and IE7 gave us the huge datasets (tens of millions of people, hundreds of millions of sessions as Dean mentioned in his post) required to know what the common and frequent behaviors and patterns of usage are with our products. This data informed our decisions about which behaviors we optimized for in IE9.

We are constantly evaluating our experiences with these methods and the team always has a pulse on if we are on the right trajectory to meet our goals. We make adjustments to our products and experiences based on our research, something we call “data-informed decision making.”

Goals for Internet Explorer 9

As Jane described in her post, we started with three overarching goals for the experiences in Internet Explorer 9 – Sites Shine, A Natural Extension of Windows 7, and Fast, Safe, and Reliable. Throughout development, we evaluated our progress against these goals in general and specific goals for different experiences.

For example, here are some of the specific Usable goals for our navigation experiences:

People can get to where the way to go fast. This means people:

  • Successfully get to sites they want to visit
  • Successfully get to sites they have previously visited within a timeframe that meets or exceeds expectations
  • Accurately articulate when a page is finished loading
  • Successfully pin sites

It’s important to note that these goals are not for a specific feature. They span many features including Address bar, New Tab Page, Pinned Sites, and progress indication, because all of these contribute to the experience of navigation to sites with the browser.

For the last goal of “Successfully pin sites,” we originally had problems with the design. You could pin by dragging the icon from the Address bar to the Taskbar and dragging the site from the New Tab Page, but not by dragging the tab the site was in to the Taskbar. Through our research, it became clear that this was one of the top ways people attempted to pin sites when trying the feature. This video clip shows one representative participant whose first instinct was to drag tabs to the Taskbar to pin them (you’ll also see the red dot of some eye-tracking research we were doing during that study as well):

Based on this research, we knew that enabling pinning sites by dragging the tab to the Taskbar would meet people’s expectations and remove one more hurdle to people having the sites they love, need, and want at their fingertips. We then verified this decision with further research. Here is a participant pinning a site by dragging a tab to the Taskbar in a later build:

Over the course of these studies, our confidence that we were on track increased as we made changes to the design and verified we were improving the experience. This occurred across most of the features of the product. This is just one example.

For another example, here are some of the specific Usable goals for our fluid browsing experiences (different from the ones for the navigation experiences above):

People can fluidly move among sites . This means people:

  • Successfully see sites side-by-side (with or without tabs)
  • Successfully find the functionality they use most often
  • Successfully get to their homepage after navigating to different sites
  • Successfully recognize whether a webpage is secure or not without prompting
  • Successfully queue multiple tabs

For the first goal of “Successfully see sites side-by-side (with or without tabs),” we evaluated many different designs to accomplish this goal. One of the tools we used to choose the design we built is the Experience Principle of “Reduce concepts to increase confidence.” This Principle is about taking advantage of what people already know and introducing new concepts only when necessary. We try to make only meaningful distinctions among concepts that people will understand and get value from.

As described in Jane’s earlier post, you can drag tabs out of Internet Explorer windows and directly Snap them to one side of the screen or the other on Windows 7. We deliberately built on what people were already using in Windows 7 and extend that experience to Internet Explorer 9. No relearning, no new concepts. People who use Windows 7 Snap already know how to use Snap with Internet Explorer 9.

These are just two examples of how we set goals for experiences and then evaluate their progress on the dimensions of Useful, Usable, Desirable, and Principled. We do this for all of the experiences and products across Internet Explorer, Windows, and Windows Live.

Setting goals for experiences across the four dimensions – Useful, Usable, Desirable, and Principled – and tracking our progress toward these goals across the development cycle is an important part of shipping the experiences we believe in. We hope you enjoy using IE9 beta. Please send your feedback in the comments and on Connect.

Jess Holbrook
User Experience Research Lead
Internet Explorer

Comments (41)

  1. Mark says:

    "Accurately articulate when a page is finished loading" – I don't get that from IE (or any browser for that matter). Short of the "Done" bottom right (which I had to re-enable), there isn't really any indication of that. Also, I've been using exclusively IE9 since the launch of the beta and I still haven't gotten used to the notification bar at the bottom.

    A more prominent system is necessary for actually immediately actionable things (e.g. starting a download, displaying insecure material on a webpage, etc). Otherwise, it looks like either a) the browser is ignoring my actions (in the case of the download) or b) there is something wrong with the rendering (CSS is being served over an insecure connection and I miss the prompt). The previous prompting system was annoying, but parts of this are a whole lot worse. I agree that I don't need a giant whopping POPUP BLOCKED that forces a reflow of the elements, but I also need something that'll catch my attention for something I need to see.

  2. Craig W says:

    I am quite happy with the IE9 beta.

    I am a long-time user of Firefox, but it is quite likely that I will move back to IE when it reaches final.

    However, my IE satisfaction seems to have very little to do with your user experience goals and objectives.

    It is quite simple: IE9 shines because of the vastly expanded standards support.

    It is not perfect, but it is a huge improvement over IE8.

    I really could not care less about interface, Win7 integration etc.

    I would be just as happy if you used the old IE6 interface and still had the same standards support.

    While I am extremely happy with IE9 beta now (September), my only concern is that by the time you reach final, your competition will have already reached and surpassed you in standards support. When that happens, I will probably go back to another browser.

    Here is hoping that IE10 is not too far away. Hopefully it will be a lot shorter of a development cycle.

    Again, congratulations on an excellent job in IE9.

  3. Gkeramidas says:

    although i'm rather satisfied with the beta, you should add one more criteria: consistency

    1. download a file with the same name and it automatically renames it, instead of prompting. this is not how any other program in windows or windows itself works.

    2. open the rss feeds. it's on the right. click to pin it, it moves to the left. doesn't make any sense. you moved it to the right, keep it there or move it back to the left in its unpinned state

  4. pmbAustin says:

    Some of the features are not easily "discoverable" even though they're very useful.  I think in some cases, a very minor change could make the feature a bit more discoverable.

    For example, nobody I know of that's used IE9 knows that you can resize the Address Bar (and thus the tabs area) by clicking in the gap between them, and dragging left and right.  I didn't know it myself until I read it here.  This is even though almost everyone was commenting that they wished one (or the other) area were wider.  So why not put a small "resizing handle" (little vertical bar) there to give a clue?  Yes, the mous does change as you mouse over, but nobody looks at a 'gap' to target… putting a little graphical indicator there would more likely get someone to mouse over it and discover it.

    Next, a lot of people who used IE7 and IE8 (or who abandoned them or refused to use them) complained that they wanted the refresh and stop buttons next to the back and forward buttons.  This is something IE9 now supports… but again, I had to discover it by reading about it somewhere.  The way to do it is to right-click the Home or Favorites button, and select "Move Stop and Refresh".  This makes ZERO sense.  Why not allow the user to right-click on the actual button they want to move?  Right click on Refresh to move it, and right click Stop to move it?  Further, make this a theme, and right-click Home to move it (LOTS of people want home over by the back button, like where it's positioned when you drag a tab to the task bar and launch it from there).  Ditto, I prefer my favorites button to be over there.  At the same time, I like my settings/tools button over on the right where it is.  Why not allow us to use Right-Click to reposition individual buttons, by right-clicking on the button we actually want to move?  That makes a LOT more sense, is a LOT more flexible than the current system, and is significantly more discoverable.

    And when you're talking about user experience, making it work for the 80% can sometimes ruin the experience for the power-users (remaining 20%).  For example, I absolutely hate the combined "one bar".  I want a separate search bar.  I've found myself putting search pages on the favorites bar and going back to using them, because I *hate* typing searches into the address bar (and losing the search terms the moment a page navigation takes place, and having the search appear in the address bar drop-down as if it were a site… YUCK!)  It kills usability for me, even though most might like it.  Again, you need an OPTION here, to allow for a separate search box, that operates much like it did in IE8 (I *loved* that).  Your defaults are fine.  Just don't TAKE AWAY FUNCTIONALITY and dumb down the interface and ignore a signifcant percentage of your users… your more vocal and influential users I might add.  For example, my parents basically use what I tell them to use.  If I *love* IE9, that's what they'll use.  If I get so annoyed that I switch to Chrome, that's what they'll use.  I may be a minority, but I'm a good minority to keep happy.

    So, to sum up, please allow the following OPTIONS to be made:

    1) Let me split the tabs onto their own line, just above the page itself… I keep a LOT of tabs open, and IE9 tab area is just too small, and too disconnected from the page contents for me.  There just needs to be a simple "Combine Address Bar and Tabs" option that defaults to "Yes".  When it's "No", they exist on separate rows.  Very simple and straight forward.

    2) Let me specify that I want a separate search bar, and allow me to position it to the right of the address bar if the tabs are on a separate line.  This can be a simple option like "Show separate search box".  The option could be enabled only when the address bar and tabs are on separate lines, or it could be enabled all the time, and if they are on separate lines it could just show to the right of the address bar, and if they aren't, it could just be its own bar, like the favorites bar.

    3) Add a "+" to the empty tab on the right that allows you to open a new tab… SOME indication of that clicking there will do

    4) For the "Download" manager, please have it remember locations by file type at least, for the default location… so I can set it once and forget about it, and not be forced to use the less-than-easily-discoverable "save as" every single time.  Even better would be a location per file-type/domain (defaulting to the last lcoation for the file type when hitting a new site for the first time).

    5) Add a 'drag target' or 'splittler' indicator between the address bar and the tabs (and between the address bar and the search box if you implement #2 above)  to make the resizing discoverable.  Also, don't base the default relative percentage of space allocated to the address bar and the tabs (or search box) solely by the screen resolution, but by the window size (so that it doesn't look silly when you use Areo Snap on a wide-screen monitor).

    6) Allow the button customizations to be more discoverable by allowing repositioning of the button to be accessed by right-clicking directly on the button itself.  This goes for the refresh and stop buttons, as well as the home and favorites buttons.

    7) Put the page title in the title bar., right above the address bar  Seriously.  The tabs are too small to hold that information, and one shouldn't have to hover to get a tool tip to see it.

    8) Figure out a way to make the quick-tabs function more discoverable.  First, they should be enabled by default, so that Ctrl-Q will ALWAYS bring them up.  Second, there should be some (optional) way to just click to see them, as there was in IE8.  It's a good feature… don't bury it so deep that nobody will ever use it again.

    9) On the "New Tab" page, it's great you have a "never show this site again", but what happens if you accidentally click that?  Just as an example, I accidentally clicked that for Facebook, and now even though it's a frequently visited site, it won't show up on the new tab page, and I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get it back.    Even worse, as I use it, the 'targets' move around, eliminating the benefit of muscle-memory.  While that's a nice feature, there should probably be an option that allows you to just freeze it, and/or manage the sites listed manually (drag and drop their order, add or remove sites at will).  Thus, this page can become a great replacement to the 'favorites bar' for those that don't want to use it (I would likely use both, since I visit a lot of sites).  So far this 'new tab' page has resulted in a lot of frustration as I try to figure out how to add back sites I accidently deleted, and as I rapidly click in a place only to realize the sites moved on me.

    That's enough for now.  I honestly believe you guys are on the right track generally, but you need to realize you shouldn't take away power-user features and abilities that accomodate power users, and people with different desires.  The one place IE falls down with respect to other browsers is "customizability".  Make it more customizable, and more people will flock to it.  Customizable doesn't have to mean complicated or complex or cluttered.

  5. Murtaza says:

    The comments before this one just kind of sum it up for IE9! I generally agree with all of them.

  6. Martin Rasch says:

    It Appears that the biggest problem is getting Web Masters and Developers to get up to spped for IE9 Beta Users.

    The Windows Geniune Advantage site site has the biggest Bug when it comes to handling IE9 Beta. The validation page just hangs.

    Most of the other MS Sites have been keeping up on breaking changes with each of the browsers.

  7. WDoser says:

    I completely agree with all points pmbAustin mentioned. Don't get me wrong, the new GUI is a great improvement and most users will like it as it is out of the box. But please don't forget the power users, there are people like me that are actually using Quicktabs and I just love the ability to search for a term in the search field of IE8, then redefine the search term in the first search engine. Doing so also alters the term within the search field of IE8, ready for use in another search engine without having to copy&paste or type it again. It also shows the user all the time what term he was searching for, this information gets quickly lost when using the onebar.

    Not only bring back the webpage title in the title bar, also put the IE icon back up there in the top left corner. There is nothing wrong with a little bit of branding, maybe just leaving it away on the pinned pages to show the difference between a normal browser window and window of a pinned website more clearly.

  8. FremyCompany says:

    The problem about IE' features discoverability is that you need to know the option exists to find it. You should really consider adding some start config dialog to help people change common parameters. This would lead to customer satisfaction because "I can customize my browser the way I want".

    In previous versions of IE, the "first setup" dialog was annoying because it prevented you to navigate. Using the new notification bar, you could add a notification like "You didn't customize Internet Explorer yet. You should take a few minutes to make your browser at your fingertips!" and then show a wizard giving information about most commonly used IE options (mainly UI-related & add-on options).


    François REMY

  9. Byron Miller says:

    Can you add the goal of spell checker?  Just a simple spell checker like the one that Chrome, Firefox, Opera and all of your competition has.

  10. Jeffrey says:

    Just want to let you know that this IEBlog is not compatible with IE 9 beta. Check it out yourself.

  11. Stilgar says:

    I wonder how the option in the settings to move the tabs on a separate line got evaluated as not "Useful", "Usable", "Desireable" or "Principled" and got removed:)

  12. Parrotlover77 says:

    I think you guys are doing a mighty fine job of making the browser easier to use for the average user.  Kudos to you for that!  

    That said, I see absolutely no reason to make the product less functional for when people turn advanced features (or legacy featurs) back on.  For example, why is the status bar so useless now?  In previous IE versions, it had sections for add-ons, pop-ups, InPrivate Filtering setting, zoom, script errors, and much more.  Now it's just the hover-link and zoom.  What's the point of reduced functionality for something that is off by default (ie, standard users don't care about)?  Anybody turning the status bar back on probably wants the advanced features.  I just don't that design decision.  Somebody just went overboard with the "minimalistic" design paradigm.

    The same goes for the top of IE.  We need a separate line for tabs and we also need an optional separate search box.  Because it's a pain to have to retype my query in the address bar in order to choose a different search engine.  this was trivial in IE7 and IE8.  I would just click the search provider pulldown and select the new engine and poof, it was done because the query was still in the search textbox.

    Finally, not everybody wants their browser minimal.  

    Moar Legacy Please.

    MS used to be famous for keeping legacy features and interfaces for those that wanted them, but ever since Windows Vista, it's like every new product version is a new user experience with very little legacy UI support.  I don't like this trend.

  13. mocax says:

    i noticed the "page loading" spinner isn't working most of the time. I couldn't tell if I've already clicked on a link.

    Then the new page just loads.

  14. Aethec says:

    @FremyCompany: Ugh. The first-time dialog in IE8 was really bad – a lot of people didn't ever finish it and simply clicked "Remind me later" each time. I think there should be a notification in the 2-3 first IE9 sessions opened that says "Would you like to take a look at what IE9 has to offer ?" "Yes/No" and that redirects users to some website with all the new things, as well as the old-but-good ones, like

    @ParrotLover77: You know, the more options they offer, the more code they have to maintain, the greater the attack surface, et al. People who actually dislike new features (the Ribbon, the Start Menu search bar, etc.) are a minority. If you want something that can be tweaked to look like a 15-year-old program, go open-source – they love to keep compatibility with very old things and to keep old UIs.

  15. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    @mocax: The beta build has some known problems wherein the spinner stops spinning too early. thanks!

    @Jeffrey: Would you mind elaborating? All of us on the IE team use IE9 with the IEBlog. thanks!

  16. Tim says:

    "Accurately articulate when a page is finished loading" – yeah not so much. This is currently a total failure in IE9 beta.

    In addition you'll even notice in the eye tracking that when a user has loaded a page, they do not look at the bottom for notifications.  They should be moved back up to the top of the screen where they relate better to the content being loaded – esp. if they are actually prompting the user to select a choice.

  17. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    @pmbAustin: If you've hidden a site from the New Tab page, the only way  (using IE's UI) to get it listed again is to clear your browser history. Doing so will clear the hashed entries under HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftInternet ExplorerTabbedBrowsingNewTabPageExclude.

  18. FremyCompany says:

    @Aethec : Yeah, it's exactly what I've said: It should appear in the notification bar, not as a "modal dialog" popup. I really dislike anything modal in the browser (I even reported bug on Connect about that). The idea is to make it appear only the 3 first times you open IE (or until you clicked on the 'Lauch the wizard' button). Using a website is a great idea you've got, since it's easier to maintain a website "up-to-date" and reactive to user needs than a frozen setup dialog. It also keeps the user in a natural browser environment. (Please note that every time FireFox introduce something new (update…)) they open a page saying what's new. The concept is not so stupid as it may seem at first glance, I must say.)

  19. FremyCompany says:

    Something I don't understand about IE9:

    I understand the problem of the 2px border around the IE8- chrome. But I suppose you can agree with me when I say the chrome can have the size you want it to have. Then, Why don't you make the chrome 4px wider and taller than the actual window size when running in IE8- compat, to have the awful border shown outside the window display area (and thus not shown, in fact) ?

  20. taylor says:

    Is there a Virtual PC image for Vista or Win 7 with IE9 beta on it (or installable) that us developers on XP can use?

    I realize I won't see the speed differences since the virtual PC likely won't be able to use my GPU the same way but I'd just like to test basic rendering and JavaScript.

    I have a scheduled IT upgrade from XP to 7 in April but I need to test our site and application in IE9 before then.

    Can I also suggest that links to the Virtual PC images be added to the list of links on the right side of this blog? It seems like a fairly important resource for developers that come to this blog.



  21. FremyCompany says:

    @taylor : Go to and download the "Technical Preview 5" (not the beta). This will install a minimal version of IE9 Beta 1 which don't require you to uninstall IE8 (it is not a full browser but you can safely use it to test the rendering on some websites).

  22. SnarkMaiden says:

    "•They save time on their common and frequent tasks compared to with previous versions of IE"

    I use Send To OneNote, Send Link by Email and QuickTabs commonly and frequently; they're all that little bit harder in the new UI, which is beautiful and elegant and frustrating for power users. I know we're not the big number users – but I think we're the *vocal* users. And I can't believe a good designer can't create a design that's equally intuitive and elegant but with the option of adding functionality and information.

    Also the lack of any progress bar leaves me feeling like the browser has fallen off a cliff every time a new page is supposed to load or a link is supposed to open. blank page; will it go anywhere? have I clicked the link? should I click it again? what's happening? very unsettling…

  23. Olivier says:

    @FremyCompany : the problem with the "technical preview" (and IE9) is that microsoft has been stupid enough to not support their main user base : the XP's users! Because of that, I'll probably continue to code in xhtml for the next 10 or 15 years.

    The only good thing is that I'm not supporting IE6 and IE7 anymore. For now, my customers are ok with that.

  24. taylor says:

    @FremyCompany – unfortunately I'm using Windows XP thus I can't use the preview tool – thus I was hoping for a VPC image.

  25. Jeffrey says:

    @EricLaw [MSFT],

    1. I am using IE 9 Beta and when I come to this site (, it takes sever seconds to load the whole page, and it seems to be freezing up to me. I have to wait for several seconds before I can move page up and down. But Google Chrome and FireFox loads the same page much faster.

    2. I see the "Compatibility View" tab next to the address bar, does it not mean this site is not compatible with IE 9? If you go to Microsoft's main site (, you will not see the "Compatibiltiy View" tab.

  26. Prior Semblance says:

    It's actually harder to tell whether or not a page has finished loading now, plus whenever a page fails to load (site is down, internet just went down, etc) half the time it just keeps me on the original page instead of going to a 404, while in IE8 I would just have to hit refresh every once in a while instead of wondering if the page has even started to load.

    As far as speed of use goes, IE9 has not really sped up anything I use.  Favorites menu takes longer, sometimes I don't even notice notifications and keep clicking, I had to disable the toolbar I use because it's way too tiny to justify an entire new row, I have trouble identifying tabs because there isn't much room, i have to select the address bar just to see the exact page i'm on, the home page and favorites buttons are way off to the side but my mouse is always on the other side, etc.  A lot of these could be easily added as options instead of forced changes, but right now IE9 is a lot less convenient for me and has made simple tasks a bit more annoying.  It's very frustrating because I really want to use IE9 for all the new HTML/CSS/ETC, but IE8 has such a nice GUI in comparison.

    At the very least could we have to option for the old style favorites menu?  The one where you mouse over a folder and it pops out the contents to the side?  I don't like having to click on each folder to open/close it, plus its a bad use of vertical space.

  27. Randall says:

    The blog system ate my previous try at posting something like this.

    The UX design principles are solid, and what y'all have delivered — substantial innovations above what other browsers are doing — speaks louder than anything you could say.  But I'm disheartened by the Microspeak-i-ness of the guidelines.  "Be great at 'look' and 'do'"?  How about "Look great, work great"?  "Solve distractions, not discoverability"?  How about "Remove clutter, but don't hide key features"?  (The long, clear, detailed guidelines docs are great; just the principles manifesto is hard to read.)

    Microsoft has a cool tradition of adapting to how regular users see their computers — we've seen "don't break the Web" and "the blue 'e' gets you to the Internet" on this blog, and the "Windows 7 is my idea" campaign has the same perspective.  I'd love to see UX principles phrased as if a user wrote them, in terms a user would use — e.g., "I don't want to have to mess with settings" instead of "UX before knobs and questions."

    Just a thought!  If y'all do that, can you tell me so I can say "Windows 8 was my idea?" 🙂

  28. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    <<I see the "Compatibility View" tab next to the address bar, does it not mean this site is not compatible with IE 9?>>

    No, that is not what the presence of a Compatibility View icon means. The Compatibility View icon provides you the opportunity to render a site using the Compatibility View settings.

  29. Roland S. says:

    I highly recommend the presentation of Don Norman about what makes software a great experience:…/don-norman-at-business-of-software-2010.html

    His points about Simplicity start at 0:29:15

    I think the IE team should consider his points and not neglect the power users among IE users (though they're just the minority)…

  30. SS says:

    I hope the IE team pays attention to great feedback like pmbAustin's post.  I don't personally agree with all of the specifics, but there are a lot of great points in there.

    First what I don't completely agree with.  Issue 3 seems pretty minor to me (adding a graphic to the new tab button).  If people know how to use tabbed browsing they'll figure it out, and if they don't understand tabbed browsing the plus seems unlikely to provide much benefit.  I don't really care one way or another, but I would put that near the bottom of the list of issues.  Similarly, I don't think issue 5 is too important either.  Both IE8 and Firefox have the same capability, but no visual indication.  I guess I'm having trouble picturing what kind of symbol would be appropriate that both grabs enough attention and doesn't grab too much attention and makes things look weird.

    To underline a few remaining points, the default UI choices aren't terrible.  Most make sense (ex. combine the tabs and address bar on one row since most users don't use many tabs), but others still cause me to scratch my head.  (To go back to the last page, which was the homepage, a user moves the mouse to the upper left and clicks the back button.  Unless it wasn't the last page, then the user moves to the upper right to click the home button.  Unless it's a pinned site, then the upper left has the temporary home button.)  That doesn't sound confusing for a user, does it?  Or… all buttons are near each other in the upper left.  Whatever, I'm pretty sure I'm wasting time using logic on this, but at least allow customizability.  A nice Customize option that allows a fully customizable UI (similar to Firefox 3.6) would be excellent.

    Please: include a separate search box, perhaps as an easily acquirable add-on from Microsoft.  Make it work just like the one in IE8, and that would be great.  This is probably my favorite feature in IE8, and it surpasses the helpfulness of other browser's search boxes.  I love how the search term changes when I type a new search in the search results web page (which other browsers don't seem to do) and the search term remains available after I go to a resulting page (which is impossible with the One Bar).  Often after seeing the first result page, I know how I want to change my search query, and I can do it directly from the IE8 search box, modifying the last web search that was performed even if I didn't use the search box.  That saves me more time than the unnoticeable milliseconds of quicker rendering in some of these pages.  (Don't get me wrong, the improved performance and standards compliance are very important.  I just think the search box is at times more important to the user experience.)

    Honorable mentions go to using the title bar, especially given the small size of tabs (don't imitate one of the stupidest things Windows 7 does with those Explorer windows… I really wish I could have title text and the icon display for those windows as well) and including a built-in spell checker.

    Things like this matter!  If you take away favorite features (search box) and make other features harder to use (condensed tab row and address bar), my choice will be simple.  Quit using IE and completely switch to another browser.

  31. Rob^_^ says:

    Goal – "Successfully recognize whether a webpage is secure or not without prompting "

    A destinction has to be made here between the UX and DevX.

    The User Expectation is that they just want to browser to 'work' and load a web page without having to twiddle any knobs and dials to get it to load such and such a site. The introduction of Security Zone templates and the "Reset all zones to defaults" button (in Internet Options) in IE6-8 greatly alleviated the need for users to twiddle under the hood. The Smart Address bar gave a clear visual clue that a site was 'secure' and the Security Zone Icon/button on the Status Bar gave a visual indication of the Trustworthyness of any site, http or https.

    But you have removed the Security Zone Icon/button from the Status Bar in IE9 Beta without a replacement visual clue on the IE Toolbar/Command Bar.

    Users will be bamboozled if they visit a web site that is in their Restricted Sites Zone but find none of the scripted links work because Active Scripting and Meta Refresh is disabled by default for sites in the Restricted Zone.

    For users please include a replacement Command Bar button for the Status Bar  Security Zone icon/button. Idealy this would include either a menu option to launch the Security Zones tab of Internet Options, or menu options to Add/Remove the current site to either the Trusted or Restricted Sites Zones….or

    Bring back the Security Zone icon/button to the Status bar.

    Idealy I would like a Fifth Zone…. the Unknown Zone… to replace the Internet Zone for sites that the user has not yet visited… The default security settings for this new zone would be the same as the Internet Zone except that Active Scripting would be disabled. This would enable users to safely navigate to sites like Facebook than use the invalid <noscript><meta content=refresh…></noscript> in the head block and be properly redirected to the noscript versions of their sites…..I know this can be done with Group Policy, but for the home user it may be a consideration… OT… be aware that AOL MSIE Browsers adds an AOLObjects security zone to the registry. Most sites do not include <noscript> tags… probably becuse the dreamweaver, VS and Expression web page templates do not include them <wink>

    The Developer expectation is the ability to find out why a site is not working. Thank you for the IE Developer Tool and the Visual Studio and Expression Web browser launchers and the "Reset all zones to Default" button.

    However, a developer needs to test their sites for all possible security configurations that a user may choose to place them in. I previously did this by launching a page/site from Visual Studio (default localhost===intranet Security Zone) and then clicking on the Security Zone Icon in the Status bar of IE to display the Security Zones tab of Internet Options, and then using the slider control to increase the current zone's security level to that of the zone that I wanted to test my site/page in. I can test all four zones easily… Now in IE9 Beta, I can no longer click on the Status Bar Security zone icon and have to navigate 3 or 4 menus to get to the Security Zones tab of internet options to change the Slider security level for the current (test) .

    I applaud the effort that you have put into the UX/UI to dumb it down and make it more streamline, but I think more can be done to simplify the UI for the user but also provide a easy mechanizm for the Developer to quicly dwelve under the hood.

    Ist… Remove all menu options to access the Developer Tool from the User UI. They have no need nor any interest in using it. I can't read minds over the internet but I can imagine their eyes rolling when I ask them to press F11 to display the Developer tool and to toggle the Browser Mode to get the page to display in either IE7 or Quirks. I am also waiting to find a public Kiosk that has not disabled the Developer Tool with Group Policy… this security issue remains in IE9 Beta.


    Add a command line switch to only enable Developer features from a command line launch….this would work well with existing Developer Environments and savy developers or support staff could easily create a desktop shortcut or context menu to launch IE in 'Developer Mode'. Safari and Chrome have a similar 'feature'. This Command line switch would enable the Developer Tool menus, scripting error message warnings and enable buttons/commands to quickly access 'under the hood' settings such as security zone settings.

    If you choose to extend the command line parameters could you also please add ? as a command line parameter…. this is standard to display a full list of the command line parameters that an application supports. God knows us developers carry enough vapor knowledge in our heads.

    I know this is not the forum to make suggestions so I have repeated my Rant on connect… ID: 606962 for those of you (public) who would like to up vote my ideas/suggestions.

    I trust that MSFT does not take my rant to be OT to this thread, but to me it seems appropiate that when considering the UX that it needs to be separated from the DevX.

  32. Rob^_^ says:

    I'm a topie….. i have my task bar at the top of the screen… to me this seems more natural as Window menus are at 'the top', sitting at my desk/workstation the top of my screen is at my eye line, but then I can touch type… I suppose the majority of computer users look down as they type and thus a bottomie (labotomie) task bar is more appealing….

    I am sure that your lab rat studies show a lot of mouse navigation between the bottom task bar and the Window menus. Sore wrists? Mouseoverdosis?

    It will be interesting in the Next Gen of devices that use the Meat Stick and Meat Patties UI……eye tracking will become redundant. touchIE.

  33. Viktor Krammer says:

    Iconsistent icon issue IE9 Beta 1

    1 drag tab to task bar puts 32×32 icon into the taskbar

    2 drag favicon from the address bar to the taskbar, puts 16×16 icon in it

  34. VC says:

    Check IE9 is the worst by far (96 out of 300) and I simply don't see how it will reach somewhere around 210 (as Chrome) to be acceptable when will come out of beta. Who cares about how fast it browse Web sites or icons, toolbars… HTML5 is the future if you want to use your browser as a client to business apps. Maybe someone who cares and can do something may read this.

  35. Blah says:

    VC: not sure how you missed the memo, but that test is garbage. It doesn't just test HTML5 (which, incidentally, isn't even done being written) and it includes user-agent sniffing.  

    Just proof that you should not believe everything you read on the internet. Any fool with ten bucks can buy a domain name and tell all the lies they want.

  36. pmbAustin says:

    SS:  "Similarly, I don't think issue 5 is too important either.  Both IE8 and Firefox have the same capability, but no visual indication.  I guess I'm having trouble picturing what kind of symbol would be appropriate that both grabs enough attention and doesn't grab too much attention and makes things look weird."

    HEH!  I had no idea this ability was in IE8 (and I've been using IT since the beta every single day)… you mentioned it, I tried it, and low and behold, you're correct!  But that seems to underscore my point that this function/feature is NOT discoverable at all.

    Visual Studio has little 'grab bars' on each of its toolbars (little dotted vertical lines).  A sort of vertical bar, or hashed/textured area, or a dotted bar… anything that would say "GRAB HERE" would be very useful, IMHO… and woudln't be distracting.  It wouldn't be the full height of the boxes on either side of it, but would supply a drag-target.  

    You're right, it's not hugely important (I didn't mean for the numbered list to imply priority), but it's just such a perfect example of how a useful feature is completely undiscoverable right now.

    Otherwise, thanks for the comments!

  37. Omar says:

    Useful, Usable, Desirable, and Principled…all characteristics of Chrome, not IE 9.

  38. BrentN says:

    I find it a bit ironic that Microsoft has been putting so much focus into making our experiences "consistent" yet they fail to consider consistency *between* versions.

    Also, IE9, and in fact all recent MS products, are leaving us "power users" at the wayside. This is great for the masses, but a nightmare for those of us that have to use, administer, and support their products every single day. Perhaps they should consider how many clicks it takes to perform common tasks in addition to how pretty the UI is. If you change something that used to take 2 clicks and now takes 5 I don't care how good/clean the UI is, you failed.

    Finally, for the love of Yoda, isn't it about time you just put in a spell checker? I mean REALLY.

  39. pmbAustin says:

    EricLaw, also, regarding the hidden pages on the "new tab page"…  I cleared out that key in the registry, most of my hidden pages came back (and I re-hid them)… but not Facebook.

    Even though I probably visit that site more than any other (okay, it might be second or even third), it's nowhere to be seen in the list.  Sites that I KNOW I visit maybe 1/10th as often are in the list, but not Facebook.  I even visited the site (hitting the favorites button as well as typing it into the OneBar) dozens of times trying to get it to show up, and it still won't.

    Clearly something isn't working right.

    Any other advice?

  40. VC says:

    Blah: While the html5test is not perfect now there is an opportunity for a dominant Web browser such as IE to build the next generation as a platform for business applications and not just to browse few pages better and faster. While I like the fact that MS is looking to add new features (such as hardware acceleration), the focus should be on ensuring that standards such as Web Sockets, File API, Storage, new Form fields, drag-and-drop, etc are primarily covered. Why IE9 team doasn't take the initiative to create a new implementation for a Web SQL database which is the main obstacle in being pushed further as a standard?  They definitely have the resources and the knowledge to do that! Indexed DB is very primitive when comes to database support, while SQL has been around for a while. Regarding the current status, most of the HTML5 specs are completed and very few changes are expected. If there is a standard IE9 team doesn't like it then they should speak up and add their contribution.

  41. richard says:

    On…/ie9_ff_onebox.asp (assuming a later build) we can see a few screenshots that show the refresh and stop button on the left of the OneBox.

    I ask for the Home button to be moved there, too.

Skip to main content