Usability: 2ndary windows in browsers

Subject: Usability: 2ndary windows in browsers
From: "Geoff Hart (by way of \"Eric J. Ray\" <ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com>)" <ght -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Mon, 14 Sep 1998 10:34:12 -0600

Melissa Alton wondered about <<the usability of secondary windows in
browsers (you know those things that pop-up on you while you are on
the Internet, usually via javascript)>>.

I can't point you towards any studies, but I can say with some
authority that an audience of one (me) generally finds them intensely
annoying. About the only exceptions are to send e-mail from
within Netscape without having to launch Eudora or when using the
secondary window avoids the need to reload a large, cumbersome page
that remains active in the background. Even then, it's a close call
about whether I find a proliferation of windows more acceptable.
Based on that fact that even a conscientious objector (i.e., me)
identifies at least three different situations in which secondary
windows have different suitabilities, I suspect you won't have much
luck finding any definitive study. More than likely, the answer will
be "it depends on the context", which is often the case in usability
research. If you've been unable to find any good journal articles pro
or con, it's probably worth saying that in your paper, and adding an
explanation that the usability will vary from context to context and
from audience to audience.
--Geoff Hart @8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

When an idea is wanting, a word can always be found to take its place.--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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