Mozilla’s Webmaker project has been running for three years. Its stated goal is to “help millions of people move from using the web to making the web.” It tries to do this by providing a few web-based tools to let non-programmers create web pages with images, audio, and video. This week, the project introduced a beta release of Webmaker for Android, which it describes as a “tool to help smartphone users of any skill level read, write and participate on the Web. The app makes creating original content in your local language simple — you can drag, drop and personalize photos, text and more to build unique projects like interactive scrapbooks, comic strips, games and memes.”
The admirable goals of the overall project, and the interesting prospect of being able to use just an Android phone to create multimedia websites without requiring programming knowledge, make you want to like the app. But, even taking into account the app’s current beta status, it is hard to recommend it to the non-technical audience it targets.
Webmaker for Android follows the recent user interface design trend of removing menus, text information, and otherwise any cues for you to determine what to do, let alone how to do something. I call this cue-less and clueless interface design. I first noticed it in Apple’s iOS 7 for iPhone and iPad. And I learned to really dislike it with Microsoft’s release of Windows 8, with its myriad difficult-to-discover gestures from all sides and corners of the interface.
Getting back to Webmaker for Android, you can see in the screenshot above that there are no obvious menus or text cues — with the exception of project’s name, which I cleverly named “Project” (the default). Even tapping the plus sign (+) to add something to the web project leads to a confusing result. For example, choosing to add an image brings you to what seems like a random image being automatically placed in a tile. It placed a picture of a dog in my tile the first time I tried it. It turns out you can tap this image to choose either an existing photograph or snapping a new one. This didn’t seem obvious at all to me.
The next challenge was to perform the task the app was designed to do: Create a web page from the phone. This turned out to be the biggest challenge. Saving the project from my Android phone and then visiting my Webmaker.org account using a desktop browser revealed… nothing: No web page or otherwise some indication that I needed to take an additional step to make a web page visible.
I next tried to share my Webmaker web creation on my Facebook page. This time, I saw a new status item on my Facebook page as expected. However, clicking on the link on my desktop resulted in the browser opening a valid web page address leading to a blank web page.
There’s still development time left, of course. As noted earlier, the Webmaker for Android is currently a beta release. While I don’t expect the lack of cues to be changed in the near future, the operational issues I ran into should be resolved before its official 1.0 release.
[“source – extremetech.com”]