Not-so-quick view


A customer recently asked me to help choose a laser printer from several Samsung models. So I went to the Samsung website, and located the list of available printers. Three or four of the models looked promising, so I tried to “middle click” on each product name to view the info in a new browser tab. But no matter where I clicked, the site either ignored it, or just opened a blank page. Then I realized the problem: Samsung uses one of those “Quick View” or “Quick Look” features to show details on the same page, but this feature prevents you from using standard browsing techniques to navigate the site.

I can appreciate what they’re trying to do here. People click on the Quick View button, and the area magically expands to show the salient details like whether the printer is network-ready or supports duplex printing. You don’t even have to leave the page. So far, so good. But whoever wrote the function didn’t think about the way real people browsed before things like Quick View existed. In short, you open a new window or tab with the things you’re interested in, and then read up on the details. So, in exchange for a new feature that few people know how to use, they’ve taken away the tried-and-true one. Overall, the experience suffers.

The next time someone offers to add a great new feature to your site, ask them what the tradeoffs might be. Will users no longer have access to the “old” way of doing things? Does it matter? How might that affect their flow through your website or their task completion rates? If any of these answers look fishy, lay down the law: either the site has to support the accepted way of doing things along with the new approach, or the new feature doesn’t make the cut.