Analysing thank-you-for-downloading-[browser] pages: background and criteria

How do browsers thank you for downloading their products? What do they show you right after you pushed that blue/green button? I’ve set out to investigate how world’s five most popular web browsers use text and images after you decided to try them out on your machine.

I have done my fair share of downloading browsers. There are things that I expect the thank-you pages to contain, which is maybe all the more the reason for my establishing a framework for the analysis. So, here are the criteria that I am going to mainly take notice of, when researching Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera.

1. What is about to happen

Downloading a browser is most probably not something you do very often unless your work entitles you to it, for example. People who do not do it on a regular basis might be unfamiliar with what downloading, and subsequently installing, a browser involves. So, I expect a thank-you page to provide a kind of a step-by-step instruction reciting what is about to happen, in a chronological order.

2. What is required of user

Most people are unfamiliar with the procedure, which means they do not often know what they are expected to do. What actions they are required to accomplish during the download should be a part of the chronological workflow explained above.

3. How to get started

It is likely that people downloading a browser are taking their first steps with it. How to get started with using it is therefore one of the necessary bits of information a thank-you page should include.

4. Spreading the love

There has been a battle (some call it war) among web browsers for usage share. Though not a mandatory ingredient, asking people who download your browser to spread the word, and thereby taking a chance at boosting own popularity, is a highly probable action on the browser developer to take.

There are other criteria thank-you pages might need to meet, in order to qualify for a complete usability analysis. However, I do not claim the analysis to be so thorough or full-toned that it would be exhaustive. Rather, I hope that looking at the five browsers in the light of the aforementioned criteria will lay foundation to build upon, would such inclination or need arise.

Here are the five browser pages that will be tested:

  • Google Chrome (for Mac* and Windows**)
  • Mozilla Firefox (for Mac* and Windows**)
  • Internet Explorer
  • Safari (for Mac*** and Windows***)
  • Opera (for Mac* and Windows**)

______

* — downloaded using Safari

** — downloaded using Internet Explorer

*** — Safari does not have a special download or thank-you page. Both Safari for Mac and Safari for Windows can be downloaded from Apple’s support pages.

Everyday Adventures

6:15. Alarm sings joyfully. I wake up, go pee, brush my teeth, put my clothes on, kiss my wife. I grab my lunch and backpack, go out, walk to work. I work, eat lunch, work more. I walk home, eat dinner, play with my baby daughter. I skype with par…

Adventures

6:15. Alarm sings joyfully. I wake up, brush my teeth, put my clothes on, kiss my wife. I grab my lunch and backpack, go out, walk to work. I work, eat lunch, work more. I walk home, eat dinner, play with my baby daughter. I skype with parents, help daughter shower, kiss my wife goodnight. I fall asleep. Rinse and repeat.

People find life monotonous. And for very good reasons, too. There is not much to it. You study, get married, work, raise children, pay bills – all struggling through. Of course, there are others whose lives are full of adventures, happenings and explorations. But you just do not have the time for anything beyond what is in your pockets, right?

Recently, I realised, though: if I want my life to become more flamboyant, I need to challenge myself daily. Because at the core of all adventures, there lie challenges to your body or mind.

So I started thinking of how I can challenge myself. Making my hemispheres collide sounded like a good idea and I came up with heaps of things I could do to make daily routines more interesting. It takes literally a couple of minutes a day to come up with at least a dozen of ideas to make your life more exuberant than it seems today. Here are six examples (that work for me) just to get you started.

1. Newbie

Difficulty level: ★☆☆☆☆☆

Take another route to and/or from work. Notice how you’ve never seen this tree here or that building there before. Stop to look at the pond you never stopped at to see if ducks still float or look at the flower box you never counted the flowers in. Dare yourself to experience your daily routines without going through the motions.

2. Elementary

Difficulty level: ★★☆☆☆☆

Swap the pockets. Whatever you carry in them, that is. Put your small belongings in all the new places. Do you carry coins in the front left pocket, keys in the front right, wallet in the back left and some junk in the back right? Move everything around and see if you can find your keys when you need them.

3. Pre-intermediate

Difficulty level: ★★★☆☆☆

Walk backwards up and down the stairs without looking backwards or ahead um, wherever you need to go. There are always stairs around. No stairs in sight? Walk backwards around your house or backyard. In any case, be extremely careful, lest you should step on the rake. It hurts whichever end of your head you hit with the handle.

4. Intermediate

Difficulty level: ★★★★☆☆

Turn your mouse 90 degrees and go surfing the Internets. Open a browser, a word-processing program or even a photo-editing monster and feel the difference. For the shortcutting cheaters or trackpad users: turn whatever you use to interact with the machine 180 degrees. Feel the difference now?

5. Upper-intermediate

Difficulty level: ★★★★★☆

Write a love letter. No, not a love e-mail. A real-life letter on a real-life piece of paper. First, take the pen. Ready? Now, switch hands! That’s right! See if your loved one appreciates your scribbled handwriting. Don’t have a loved one? Write a letter to your manager. Or landlord. Tell them how awesome you think they are.

6. Advanced

Difficulty level: ★★★★★★

Try finding flaws in you. Hard to think of any? Ask your spouse, children or parents. They’ll know. Having too many flaws to count? Focus on the first three. Now, take a flaw and make a list of five things you have to do to kill it. Let the five things be like chain links that loop over five months, one measure a month.

Important: never ever stay satisfied with where you are. When you are done mastering your challenges, there will always be new ones to face.

Do you have other ideas for challenges? Share them with me on Twitter or in the comments below!

(Photo courtesy of Anne Roberts.)

The History of Words

There are many words that we use daily, but have no clue if, say a thousand years ago, they meant what they mean today. Is there a way to know which origin different words have? Yes, there is. The study of the origin and evolution of words is call…

There are many words that we use daily, but have no clue if, say a thousand years ago, they meant what they mean today. Is there a way to know which origin different words have? Yes, there is. The study of the origin and evolution of words is called etymology and, in fact, there are more words of foreign origin in many European languages than we can imagine.

Introduction

The importance of etymology is widely under­estimated today. Language is one of the few things humans possess that other creatures do not. As a means of communication, it is the most subtle and sophisticated one. And its historical development is far from boring!

The study of the history of words can find its implication in many different areas. Take translating and interpreting practices, for example. No computer-generated translation of texts can rival one done by a human in accuracy. Not yet. And I doubt that computers will prove an equal counterpart to humans concerning the translation from one language to another in the nearest future, even though there are many services that are trying to bridge the gap between people of different linguistic experiences. Three of the most well-known translation services are, probably, Google TranslateBing Translator (formerly known as Yahoo! Babel Fish) and Dictionary.com Translator.

Or take teaching foreign languages. What an advantage it would be and what ease it would bring for students (and even teachers) to know the connection between the meaning and pronunciation of a certain word! That is what etymology is all about. It is about finding and discovering connections that are hidden under the massive layers of history, behind the thick curtains of time. (When one does uncover a couple of such links, the others become clearer and more obvious.)

Hello

Hi! Hello! Howdy! How many times a day do you use that word? A couple? A hundred? Do you ever stop to think about what you are really saying when you say “Hello!” to someone you meet?

There is a somewhat popular myth that hello is a word made up after the telephone was invented in 1876. Though hello did win over Graham Bell’s suggested ahoy as a phrase to answer the telephone, the origin of the word hello goes a few centuries back into the history of communication. In the middle of the 19th century, its variant hallo was used to express a greeting or attract attention. Even earlier, in the middle of the 1500s, hollo, itself a variant of holla (now both obsolete) was used and meant stop! (Does the word halt ring any bell?).

Now, holla probably comes from Old French and is a compound of ho (ho!) and la (there). (And does this not remind one of the Spanish hola?) One can speculate that hello and whole are related in the English language (whole can itself be related to heal and health). Whole is hel in the Scandinavian languages, heel in Dutch, celý in Czech and целый in Russian. In many languages, a form of healthy is used to express a greeting, for example, sveiki in Latvian and здравствуйте in Russian.

Water

Water covers almost 71 per cent of the surface of our planet, it is vital for the survival of everyone and everything on the earth, it was considered as one the four basic elements, and yet, for the most part, we take it for granted. Not only its existence and maintenance, but also its historic and linguistic development.

Did you know that cologne or eau de cologne, even though the phrase is in French, originated from Cologne, Germany and, if written in the original language, it would read Wasser von Köln. And how about this one – did you know that feng shui literally means wind water and is a Chinese system of aesthetics aimed at receiving harmony and balance?

There are many water-related words in the English language that originate from other languages. Aquarium, for example, comes from Latin, but back then it meant “drinking place for cattle”. A very curious transition compared to the word’s meaning today, isn’t it? Another example is a popular word dehydrated coming from dehydration, which means “an excessive loss of water from the body”. The latter comes itself from the Greek hýdor (as does hydrogen or hydrate).

Here’s an illustration of how the word water is similar and different in spelling and pronunciation in seven languages:

Wasser (German)

vatten (Swedish)

vann (Norwegian)

voda (Bosnian)

aqua (Latin)

νερό [neró] (Greek)

eau (French)

Conclusion

The applications of the study of the history of words are broad and wide. The connections between words and their meanings in different languages abound in quantity and are next to impossible to recount. The longer you have used a language and the deeper you have been into finding out more about it and the wider your interests are in general, the easier it is for you to notice and make use of these connections.