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Minimalistic UI Decisions in Browsers

I’ve tried to talk about this a few times to people over the last year or so, but I think it’s hard to explain without pictures. So I gathered a bunch of screen shots that should help explain why I’m not a huge fan of the minimalistic browser concept. More browsers are getting on board with this, and while I absolutely do believe it makes people more productive and therefore faster, there are some negatives that are worth pointing out. Frankly, I do believe there is a lot of wasted space in browsers, so at first blush, I’m sure most people would agree that the various browsers are heading into the right direction by emulating Chrome. I actually agree with the basic concept, with the exception that I think there are some gotchas that are worth thinking about before we’re “got”.

I’m certainly not saying there’s no way to fix these issue either, but I don’t think it’s wise to run headlong into a bunch of potentially dangerous problems without knowing that they’re there. So I hope this sheds some light for those people I talked to, and for anyone else who’s interested! :)


While URL previews are not entirely reliable, they can provide valuable hints. As this post illustrates, a browser wilfully obfuscating URLs is saving attackers some effort and potentially enabling tricks that more complete URL previews could uncover.

It’s more than just a security issue, I also find it to be an inconvenience. I often like to see the URL of a link before clicking for reasons other than security.

With Firefox 4 Beta 7, Mozilla removed the status bar and moved URL previews into the address bar space. This change reduces the space available for URL previews, following the minimalist concept. It would be interesting to see a similar set of tests performed with the latest Firefox beta.

I would not mind the reduced space afforded to URL previews if browsers provided a quick, easy and reliable way to view the full URL, perhaps by clicking on the URL preview space or a nearby button.