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Study Underscores Importance of Testing Rich Internet Application Technology to Create Simpler, More Intuitive User Experiences
[March 06, 2006]

Study Underscores Importance of Testing Rich Internet Application Technology to Create Simpler, More Intuitive User Experiences

WATERTOWN, Mass. --(Business Wire)-- March 6, 2006 --

Molecular's User Experience Experts Offer Best Practices for Successfully Incorporating Rich Internet Applications into an Online Channel

Molecular, Inc., a leading technology consulting firm, today released findings from a study on the use of Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) in online channels. By conducting usability tests with consumers ranging in Web experience levels, Molecular analyzed the functionality of six Web sites that currently employ RIA technology, including,,,, and The study revealed the importance of usability testing to determine the most effective implementations of RIAs. Since this technology is transforming the way in which users interact with the Web, Molecular recommends that companies work closely with their target audiences to better understand their needs, goals, and expectations and then design rich Internet experiences to meet those goals.

As Web 2.0 gains momentum, RIAs are revolutionizing the online experience by allowing real-time user interface options that are not possible with HTML technology. For example, RIAs are often seen in Web sites to add interactive features such as product configurators, allowing users to visualize and customize products, and online catalogs, mimicking the personalized in-store experience. RIA technology combines the flexibility of Web applications and the functionality of traditional desktop applications to process data directly on the desktop rather than relaying data back to the server, like traditional Web sites. Many HTML interfaces cause user frustration due to multiple page refreshes resulting from the slow-loop transfer of data from the desktop to the server back to the desktop, which can be avoided by the implementation of RIAs.

"We believe RIAs are far better than HTML interfaces when properly applied. The emerging technology is providing customers with improved response times, more fluid interactions and 'smarter' content to guide people through complex applications such as shopping," said Darryl Gehly, executive vice president of Molecular. "The question therefore is not whether a company should implement this technology, but how a company should implement this technology to best serve its customers."

During the usability study, users were given a scenario and asked to complete specific tasks. Participants were encouraged to describe their actions, motivations and assumptions during each experience, the results of which were then analyzed by Molecular's user experience experts. Molecular found that users' interactions with RIAs were favorable overall and they enjoyed the interactive features and improved response times not offered by many traditional HTML interfaces. Users still encountered problems with RIA interfaces, however, these were mostly due to usability issues that could have been resolved by testing prior to launch.

As a result, Molecular identified three main success points that users responded to favorably across all six Web sites, including:

-- A Richer User Experience: Users liked the freedom to explore sites without slow and often frustrating page refreshes. In particular, users found auto-fill fields helpful and benefited from the ability to click on a product and see details about the product on the same page, such as size and color selections. Overall, users could tell that sites with RIAs were quick and responsive, allowing for an improved brand experience.

-- Visualization Tools: Users were delighted to be able to create custom products online, such as selecting a paint color for the interior of a home and seeing a room painted that color.

-- A "Single Screen" Environment: Users responded well to the single screen environment, where all data entry and validation occur within a single screen. In particular, users felt that they were able to accomplish tasks faster and easier, while receiving the kind of immediate feedback that they are looking for.

Molecular's user experience design services rely on best practices in visual design, information architecture and usability principles to deliver highly accessible, practical applications in the context of engaging Internet experiences. For more information, please visit

About Molecular, Inc.

Molecular, a technology consulting firm, designs and builds Internet-based solutions to help companies increase revenues and decrease operating costs. Since 1994, Molecular has directed successful Web initiatives for the nation's top companies, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Fidelity Investments, MFS Investment Management, Hewlett-Packard and Talbots. For more information, contact Molecular at or at 617.218.6500. Molecular is located in Watertown, Massachusetts.

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