Q: Why do tabs sometimes show an orange dot?

Sometimes, you’ll notice that a background tab has an orange dot on it in Edge (or a blue dot in Chrome). If you click on the tab, the dot disappears. Why? The dot indicates that the tab wants “attention” — more specifically, that there’s a dialog in the tab asking for your attention. This mightContinue reading “Q: Why do tabs sometimes show an orange dot?”

Badware Techniques: Notification Spam

I tried visiting an old colleague’s long-expired blog today, just to see what would happen. I got redirected here: Wat? What is this even talking about? There’s no “Allow” link or button anywhere. The clue is that tiny bell with a red X in the omnibox– This site tried to ask for permission to spamContinue reading “Badware Techniques: Notification Spam”

“Batteries-Included” vs “Bloated”

Fundamentals are invisible. Features are controversial. One of the few common complaints against Microsoft Edge is that “It’s bloated– there’s too much stuff in it!” A big philosophical question for designers of popular software concerns whether the product should include features that might not be useful for everyone or even a majority of users. ThereContinue reading ““Batteries-Included” vs “Bloated””

Smarter Defaults by Paying Attention

As a part of every page load, browsers have to make dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of decisions of varying levels of importance: should a particular API be available? Should a resource load be permitted? Should script be allowed to run? Should video be allowed to start playing automatically? Should cookies or credentials be sentContinue reading “Smarter Defaults by Paying Attention”

Web “Sessions” in Private Mode

I’ve written about Private Browsing Mode a lot previously, and I’ve written a bit about the behavior of “Session restore” previously, but one topic I haven’t covered is how “Sessions” work while in Private mode. Session Sharing Historically, one of the top-reported Private Mode issues was that users unexpectedly found that opening a new PrivateContinue reading “Web “Sessions” in Private Mode”

Avoiding Unexpected Navigation

For over twenty years, browsers broadly supported two features that were often convenient but sometimes accidentally invoked, leading to data loss. The first feature was that hitting backspace would send the user back one page in their navigation history. This was convenient for those of us who keep our hands on the keyboard, but couldContinue reading “Avoiding Unexpected Navigation”

Web-to-App Communication: App Protocols

Note: This post is part of a series about Web-to-App Communication techniques. Just over eight years ago, I wrote my last blog post about App Protocols, a class of URL schemes that typically1 open another program on your computer instead of returning data to the web browser.  App Protocols2 are both simple and powerful, allowingContinue reading “Web-to-App Communication: App Protocols”

Great Product Support

And now for something completely different… Shortly after we moved into our house in late 2012, the control panel on our GE Oven (model #JTP30B0M1BB) started to fall apart. The faceplate of the control panel was made of a plastic that wasn’t sufficiently heat-resistant. The labeled plastic began to bubble, crack, and peel. By 2018,Continue reading “Great Product Support”

The Trouble with Magic

“Magic” is great… except when it isn’t. Software Design is largely about tradeoffs, and one of the more interesting tradeoffs is between user experience and predictability. This has come up repeatedly throughout my career and in two independent contexts yesterday that I’ll describe in this post. Developer Magic I’m working on a tiny UX changeContinue reading “The Trouble with Magic”