This week’s topic comes to the World Wide Web that most of people can’t live without nowadays. Web browser is a crucial tool to connect users with the Web. Most online users, not surprisingly, choose web browsers such as Chrome, Firefox and Safari to “surf online”. Although it seems that all users share the same using experiences of the services provided by these most popular browsers, more customized and “dynamic” interfaces have been built during their frequent usage of the web browsers. This trend derives from user-web interaction, while it also greatly influences the searching results and future using experiences.
Taking my most frequently used web browser, Google Chrome, as an example. In the search bar, I seldom type in the whole URL for viewing a website unless it is the first time I search for the website. Cookies help “memorize” and store my searching history so that I could quickly locate the wanted website by just typing in a part of the URL. For the Wikipedia page “Expectancy Violations Theory” that I have visited hundred times for a course project throughout the semester, I don’t even need to type the domain name “wikipedia” in the search bar. Instead, the website address displays in the drop-down menu with only “ex” typed in the search bar. This would never happen in another computer with different searching experience by other web users. Another customized feature about cookies is the convenience of automatic logins and quick online shopping experience. Cookies kept remembering your online behaviors. Even though you haven’t been to a shopping site for a long time, cookies include what you placed into the shopping cart will be found by the browser. The browser sends the URL to the Web server, and also “sends the information in the cookie” in order to restore updated online footprints left by the users.
Compared to other web browsers such as Safari, Google Chrome has a distinct design feature that allows users to add extended tools, which greatly customizes the way that users receive online information. I’m not able to watch several videos on Chinese video streaming websites because a US IP address is detected, showing that “this video can only be streamed within Mainland China.” I have nothing to do with this using Safari browser. However, Google Chrome provides users great opportunity to install extensions such as “Unblock Youku” to deal with the blocked situations.
Great extension like “Adblock” enables us to avoid annoying ads from different kinds of websites. This inspired me to make a comparison between the regular YouTube main page and an ad-immune YouTube main page based on the HTML source code about how different media sources are displayed in this web page. For the main page without ads, I did not find the according code resources for the GEICO Insurance ads.
I feel that those extended tools act as important parts of the modular design of Google Chrome. Whether the extensions exist or not does not have much connection to the primary design process of the web browser, during which developers build interfaces to the Internet system, cookies, different media content and HTML code resources, etc. However, by adding a process of customization, the existence of Chrome extensions partly affects the changes of interfaces, which enables users to view more expected content while filter useless media content. It provides greater using experience for the user-web interaction and more dynamic, ever-upgraded interfaces.
Ron White, How Computers Work. 9th ed. Que Publishing, 2007. “How the World Wide Web Works.”