I can’t tell you how many times I have looked at an app running on my laptop and thought “are they for real… did anyone test this on something less than a 24″ display before releasing it?”. I think the most egregious violator of laptop display personal space is Microsoft Office… you could enable enough tool bars and palettes to completely obscure any remaining workspace on my 15″ macbook pro.
So when I read this post I realized 1) I am not alone, and 2) someone feels my pain.
The maximize button is my friend. Toolbars are my enemies.
So I’m happy to report that browser makers are paying new attention to the issue. It’s important to me for reading Web sites, but it’s really important to me for the new generation of Web applications. A row of pixels saved once in the browser is returned again with each Web-based application.
It also reminded me of a document collaboration product from now defunct Lunarr. One really cool UI innovation that Hideshi and the team developed was putting the menus and toolbars on the document editing screen at the bottom of the app rather than the traditional top row configuration. It took a little getting used to but it actually works really well because it tricks your eye into believing there is more white space for working than their really is.
At any rate, this is clearly something app designers need to focus on because while we all benefit from oversized desktop displays that are increasingly inexpensive, the computing marketing is also moving small with netbooks and mobile devices making up the only growth markets for hardware manufacturers.