in Interface Design

Pages and Direct Manipulation

Now that we have rich web interfaces and sufficient bandwidth there’s talk of the death of the web page. While that may happen someday, for now we’re on a gradual journey of using pages differently than we used to.

One difference is simply introducing more direct manipulation, such as clicking and/or dragging the pages themselves rather than a link representing the page. About four years ago I created a way to navigate web pages by moving them side-to-side


…one gesture the iPhone uses today.


Some recent designs are using thumbnails to increase non-linear navigation performance, such as Issuu


…and AT&T’s Pogo browser.

No doubt these are some slick interfaces. But of course we’re relying on a visual thumbnail of a page to signal the meaning of what content is on that page. For relatively graphical web pages, that may be fine. For text pages, probably not. As they used to say at Apple, “a word is worth a thousand pictures.” Displaying a thumbnail and a word together could go a long way, at least until we kill the page.