[uf-discuss] Microformats gets strong showing in Firefox 3 UI

Paul Wilkins paul_wilkins at xtra.co.nz
Tue Jun 5 23:46:28 PDT 2007

Colin Barrett wrote:

> I was thinking about this, and I wonder -- how did people learn the  
> behavior that you can click on a blue, underlined piece of text? 
> Think  about a pre-web world where nobody knew what hypertext was. 
> People  needed to figure out somehow that you could click on links to 
> make  them activate.
> Enter, the hand cursor. If you think about it, it tells you nothing  
> about what's actually going to happen when you click -- instead, it  
> looks like someone about to click the mouse, so I suppose it's  
> inviting for people to mimic the gesture? This still doesn't answer  
> the question of how people would discover this. My guess is that  
> people scan the page with their mouse as they read. I know I do that  
> sometimes. Anyone have actual evidence?

There's no need to guess.
There were many issues and problems with hyperlinks when they were first 
used, and information about this is fully available in great detail.

The following extract is by Jakob Nielsen from 1988

Architectural Component of Hypertext Systems

> Perhaps we don't need to worry about discoverability of microformats  
> further than just changing the cursor, after all.

Your proposal for microformats provides no mechanism for people to 
visually distinguish what is microformat content and what is not.

Imaging that you have ten different pages, all from different websites. 
Three of them have microformat information in them and the rest do not.
Are people going to right-click on every piece of content that's of 
interest to them on all of those ten pages and examine the context-menu 
to see if that piece of content lets them use some microformat content? 
No they are not. After a very short while they'll tire of that game.

If there is instead a visual cue of there being microformat content on 
the page (an icon appears, or your hovered mouse shows you something), 
then it becomes much easier to take action on potential information of 

Idea for developers - for accessibility, there should be a keyboard 
shortcut that enables the outlining of microformat content. Then someone 
can quickly (without the mouse) check to see if there's something of 
interest to them, before moving on.

Paul Wilkins

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