The Usability Issues of Google Chrome
By Xuelin Ma
Nowadays, a large number of browsers are on the market. Since browsers are the most frequently used type of software and lots of companies regard browsers as key products, developing an attractive and usable browser becomes more and more important.
Chrome, the browser developed by Google, has lots of advantages, such as fast speed, high level of security, simple download operation and so forth. However, it also has several flaws.
Lack of Warning
The warning message is one of the most important heuristics that can prevent system from potential errors. Most software now provides this function when users make important decisions (i.e., delete data, close windows). However, as the second or third widely used browser, Google Chrome does not provide any message when users try to close the entire browser, which may lead to data lost if users just tend to close one single tab. On the contrary, Internet Explorer and Firefox will pop up a proper warning box asking for confirmation (See figure 1), thereby preventing unwanted operations.
To solve this problem, Google Chrome should give proper notification (i.e., pop-up warning box) to inform users the system process and the potential error. Besides, an approach to recover data from error should be given. For example, users can choose to start the browser with the web pages they were browsing last time (Figure 2).
Figure1: The pop-up warning box in Internet Explorer
Figure 2: Preferences setting of startup webpages in Internet Explorer
With the release of Internet Explorer 7 in 2006, all major web browsers featured a tabbed interface . A study in 2009 shows that users switched tabs in 57% of tab sessions . With this large proportion of users, web browsers should solve the related major problems thereby keeping and attracting potential customers.
However, Google Chrome frustrated users with invisible tab descriptions. Specifically, with the increasing number of opened tabs, Chrome automatically narrows down the length of each tab to save screen space, just like the other web browsers do. However, instead of at least showing a few words of the webpage’s title and hiding some tabs temporarily, Chrome will always narrow down all the tabs without giving any description of web pages, which makes them hard to be recognize (Figure 3).
One of the most used solutions for this problem is to hide some tabs temporarily and show them when needed (Figure 4). In addition, several words of the title description or the icon of the related webpage should always be shown. To give more user friendly feature, colorful tabs can be used to help users distinguish and navigate more easily (Figure 5).
Figure 3: Tabs with invisible title description in Google Chrome
Figure 4: Some tabs are hidden at the left of the tab bar in Internet Explorer
Figure 5: Colorful tabs used to help users distinguish tabs in Firefox
Wikipedia Google Chrome http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrome_(browser)
Jeff Huang, Ryen W. White (2010). "Parallel Browsing Behavior on the Web". Proceedings of the 21st ACM Conference on Hypertext and Hypermedia (HT '10).