Posted by: Joe | September 26, 2006

IE7, usability and consistency

I’ve always been a fan of Internet Explorer. I liked the integration into the OS. I never understood the appeal of tabbed browsing–to me it’s just as easy to keep track of multiple windows as it is to keep track of multiple tabs.

But dammit, this is driving me insane:

What in the hell are the Refresh and Stop buttons doing way over there?

Since IE 1.0, the first four elements on the toolbar have been Back, Forward, Refresh, Stop. Always. In fact, everybody became so used to this, that all Mozilla based browsers adopted the same default button placement on the toolbar.

Consistency is the cornerstone of the user experience. Users will tend to use experiences they’ve gained from other applications. Particularly when it’s a previous version of the same application. When the user’s expectations based on those experiences prove to be right, they feel more comfortable with the application. Comfortable users are happy users.

Since I’ve installed Vista, every time I’ve wanted to refresh a page, my hand automagically moves the mouse to the upper left portion of the window. Then I get confused for a second when I can’t find the button I’m looking for, and then eventually remember that it’s way on the other side of the address bar. I’m not a comfortable user.

Even worse, not only has the default button order changed, but you can’t customize it. Even IE1.0 allowed you to change the order of the toolbar buttons if you didn’t like them.

Straw, meet Camel’s Back. Here’s one more new Firefox user.



  1. I agree they are in the wrong place and not being able to move any buttons is heinous. But you know the weird thing is I have got used to them there. I recently had reason to fire up Opera and Firefox browsers and when I went to refresh I automatically pointed my mouse to the top right of the toolbar. Then found they were obviously not there.
    Its like everything new, most of us hate it but very soon get used to it. Try it for a week then go back to another browser, you will suddenly find you actually miss it at the top right. Its a strange phenomenon :)

  2. But that’s just one *tiny* instance of this happening within the Vista UI. If you’re going to change things that have become ingrained into the user experience, you’d better have a damned good reason why.
    I just haven’t been able to see the benefit to the user in many of the changes that have been made.
    I mean, I’m willing to stick it out and give it a chance, but to be honest, if I’m going to make the effort to relearn what is essentially a new OS, I’m not going to spend the $399 for Windows Vista Ultimate. I’ll be installing Ubuntu.

  3. I gave up on IE about two years ago. I tried an early IE7 beta, but it was crashing left and right. At some point I might give it another try, but if Firefox v2 comes out around the same time, it’ll be at the bottom of my to-play-with list.

  4. yeah, the thin that they are there is bad but, if that would of been a different browser wouldnt we look for the refresh button?

  5. In the same way standard Windows UI dictates “File, Edit, View” type menu display in the upper left, REFRESH & STOP are naturally expected to be in the same place (or at least give the user the right to move them there)
    It’s as if we suddenly started moving doorknobs 2 feet higher or lower on a door, or changed twist off caps to require opposite rotation.
    Absolutely clueless on a very basic level

  6. Plan is: force users to upgrade to IE7 (soon by automatic updates) -> They will argue about placement of stop and refresh buttons but will get used to new placement in two weeks -> After another two weeks they will start Firefox and say: Firefox is bad, why they have refresh and stop buttons on the left?

  7. You’re right and I need to agree to your post even some months later :-) Seems like you and Jens Meiert are on the same side anyways…!

    I started to use Opera by the way…found it most useful and usable.

  8. Finally someone else than me that thinks this SUCKS..
    in earlier versions, when i enter the wrond adress, I could just move the mouse button 0,5cm and i stopped the loading of the page…. But now(with 1920×1200 resolution) i have to book a flight for the mouse pointer to get to the stop button. Mozilla Firefox, here I come :D

  9. I totally agree. I convinced my mom to update to IE 7, while I use Firefox. I told her there would probably only be security and reliability enhancements. I was sadly mistaken. The reconfiguration of the GUI is a major blunder. I can’t think of many worse places for the stop, refresh, and home buttons. And if they wanted to move the command buttons, couldn’t they have left them grouped? Or up to the users’ prefs?

    Way to go, Microtard.

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