There is an opportunity to take ideas from desktop applications and apply then to the web. All user interface design is information visualization. We can blur the distinction between dynamic content and transactions. In designing desktop UI in the ’90s, it was wonderful to see context-sensitive panels and toolbars gradually replace the modal dialog. Why make the user ask a question when we can provide the answer? Some of today’s web sites are already applying this principle in creating dynamic data-driven sites.
Unlike a desktop app, a web site is a place. I find this metaphor of travel oddly intuitive. It takes time to go from one place to another in real life, so it feels okay to wait when you ‘go’ to another page on the web. We design multiple web pages with a consistent design and user interface elements to create the illusion that a web site, these multiple pages, are a single place. Nevertheless as you troll for information or finalize a transaction, a conversation takes place. You ask questions, fill out forms, click links, and the landscape changes. It’s a completely different experience than the one you have on your solitary desktop, and provides fertile ground for innovative design.