You Are Not the Average User

In the latest version of Chrome Canary Google has removed the full URL from the omnibar and instead shows only the domain and HTTPS info. The same feature was introduced in Mobile Safari with iOS 7. This is a good thing. As Jake Archibald outlines in this blog post the new omnibar protects the user from phishing attempts while improving the user experience and hiding the non-vital information in the URL.

Still there has been some backlash and critique with this change, power users feel crippled and arguably people who tinker with the URL suffers from a degraded experience. The critique is certainly valid and sound, but the critique is coming from power users and developers.

You are not the average user

Products for the general public should optimize for the average user. The issue? The people who builds software are not average or normal computer users. I, like many programmers, immensely enjoy working with the command line rather than GUI:s. The command line is vastly more powerful and expressive than GUI:s will ever be and the ability to modify the workflow and automate is invaluable (if you disagree with this try out Oh My zsh). Still my computer is nearly unusable for a lot of my friends and family who don’t have the technical proficiency that I have and further some of my friends computer are totally unusable for me(xMonad + Dvorak).

The solution

The solution is simple. Don’t build a UX you love, build a UX your users will love. But don’t forget the power users in the process. If removing the full URL from the browser improves security and UX then do that, but don’t make it mandatory. Let me and all other power users tinker with the configuration of our browser to display the full URL if we so desire, but try to make the tinkering as easy as possible while you are at it :) I think the Google team is doing exactly the right thing which is: configurable settings with sane defaults for the average user.

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