Web App Fears

As I’ve been getting more and more into web app development strategy, one though keeps coming back to me. Undo. You’ve gotta have it—especially for the casual user. GMail has it (though I believe it only lets you step back one function). But I can’t think of too many other places I’ve seen it.

Brian’s obviously thinking of the same thing, and he writes:

… the best way to get users from beginners to intermediate users is to take away their fear of making mistakes with the app. If they feel like they can’t permanently mess things up, they’ll fiddle with the knobs, try features, pop in text, and so on. Undo is a psychic blankie, always there for us when we go slightly astray.

I think there is a bit of a fear to web apps—a fear of the unknown. You’re entrusting your data to a third party. I’m not talking about privacy concerns, though those are valid. I’m talking about the fact that when you’re working on a Word doc and you save it, you see the file saved to your desktop. On Google Docs, you press save and it’s like… “Your work was saved. Don’t worry. You can totally trust me. You can’t see it, but it’s there.”

There’s also the fear of the unfixable fuckup. Accidental presses of “delete my account” or “delete this contact and all associated information” can happen. You just never know. My cat has selected text passages and replaced them with “dkkfkgadkl;fj” simply by walking across my keyboard. With a desktop app, I can rely on multiple undos. If that’s not there in a web app, I’m not going to trust it with anything worth losing. And if you’re not using it for anything worth losing, what are you using it for?

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