Date of Award

6-2011

Degree Name

MS in Computer Science

Department

Computer Science

Advisor

Clark Savage Turner, J.D., Ph.D.

Abstract

The web browser has become one of the most recognizable software applications on consumer desktops. Yet its utilization and capabilities are often misunderstood. Recent innovations in the web have evolved the Internet into a network of sophisticated applications that defy historical uses of the “browser”; a term that itself has become somewhat of a misnomer. This research studies the evolving set of user expectations for the browser as an application platform and challenges certain anachronistic features, specifically the “back” button, that are unnecessary and confusing given the new environment that browsers are used in. Because of this shift, implicit new user requirements arise around the browser’s user interface. The back button, like other elements in the browser have already demonstrated, should be de-emphasized in modern iterations of web browsers. The study is qualified by an analysis of user behavior within a popular, modern, web application.