I think the concept of the Internet being "user friendly" has gotten lost in the rise of "let's see how cool I can make this web site."
I've got some advice for web designers: Your extra-cool applications, graphics and such do more to discourage use of the Internet than to make it cool.
You have lost the right to use the "easy-to-use" label when I have to search a web site for a link that takes me to a drop-down menu, where I will find a link to another site, where I will have to search for - and wait for it - yet another link to get where I want to go.
I won't even go there on people who decide it's super cool to identify a program with a name that is anything but the name most people use for the program. Mainly, I'm not going there because what I have to say is not printable.
The problem I have wsith the Internet, though, is that people think updating an already popular web site means moving everything around. It's like drawing the "Mona Lisa" on an Etch-A-Sketch, and then shaking the darn thing to see what you come up with. Like the Etch-A-Sketch, though, you'll probably end up with much less than you started with, and eventually you have nothing, if you keep shaking it.
Take Facebook as an example. When it started, you could only get a Facebook page if you attended a college which had a Facebook network. Even then, you were required to use your school e-mail address to be a member. It was actually pretty cool back then. It didn't have any applications, and your every move on Facebook was not publicized to the world.
You and your friends could basically just write on each other's wall, post pictures of yourself and send messages to friends. It was pretty simple, but at a time when MySpace was beginning to slowly implode from being turned toward the teen market, Facebook was the cool kids' club.
Then the owners of Facebook had to screw it up by allowing high schoolers to crash the party. Nothing kills a good kegger quite like someone bringing their pimple-faced kid brother to the party. Facebook owners followed that up by adding applications, and then came information feeds, which announced your every move on the site to all of God and creation.
Later came the politician and celebrity Facebook pages, and redesigns with the tabs, and so on, and so forth.
Long story short, there are things that I put on my Facebook page years ago which I presume are still on there, somewhere, but I don't know because they disappeared during a re-design of the web site.
Of course, I'm a Facebook junkie, so while I'm complaining about the web site now, as soon as I get home tonight, I'll be getting on my web site to check for any new messages or invites I've received today. Then I'll play Facebook's "Bejeweled" game for a few hours (I am so hooked on that game!), check my messages again, and then go to bed.
But in keeping with my point here, is it too much to ask of web site designers that they ask themselves, "Will this make things easier to use?" before they start adding this application, after that application, after another application?
It will be helpful to everyone in the long run.
Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.