A few weeks ago, my Mom told me she needed a computer. I had an old, extra laptop hanging around so I told her and my Dad not to buy one. The first application I installed was Google’s Chrome web browser. Read on to find out why.
Before I installed Chrome, I installed a fresh copy of Windows XP (That I also happened to have lying around.)
To address some concerns coming from the dark corner of the internets full of *nix people: no, I wasn’t going to install Ubuntu or another Linux on her machine. I lost sleep over the decision not to install FreeBSD, however. These operating systems are just not ready for Mom. It’s just this old 1.5 GHz HP zt3000 with 1GB RAM and built in wireless. A very decent machine. I had run Gentoo on it for years, and wrote many Java libraries for various things. With old sentiments like that, I could only give it to my Mom. And, no I didn’t have an extra Mac on hand (although I wish I did!).
Anyway, continue reading to find out why I feel that google chrome is the best way for my mom to surf the web.
Mom gets on the Internet
So, while I was figuring out when I would have time to set this laptop up for her, I had thought about which browser to install. To know why I chose Chrome, one only needs to watch my Mom on the computer for 2 minutes. There’s no way to explain it. She has six sons, so much of her life was raising us troublemakers. She has no interest in the Internet, whatsoever, she’s just getting on because I’ve told her numerous times, “The pictures of your Grandchildren are up on flickr.com”. Instead she insists on print-outs, and although they work quite well – paper doesn’t grow on trees….well….you get what I’m saying.
Just the other day, she wanted to find out where in the body the spleen was located, because my brother has been having pains. She wasn’t sleeping well because of it, and she had learned of WebMD over the radio or TV or something. So the advertising worked. She quickly became frustrated as she pointed to a drawing of an interactive body, trying to tell it where the pain in my brother was. She kept clicking “It’s right there!” Nothing happened. Right then was her first lesson in Google and Wikipedia. After one minute, we found out it’s not the spleen, instead it’s probably the liver. Big surprise. Actually, he hurt himself snowboarding, it’s just cracked ribs.
So why is Chrome the best choice for Mom? Simplicity.
The most obvious evidence of this is that there is only one bar to enter text into. Web pages can be difficult enough to navigate for someone with little to no browsing experience, she doesn’t need a difficult browser to navigate as well. My tutorial on this part was “Enter what you’re looking for here, and if you happen to know the address, type it in.” It just doesn’t get simpler than that.
The other huge factor in the simplicity realm is the “Create Application Shortcuts…” button. Another of my brothers had just set her up with an email address from Comcast. I went to the site, entered in her credentials and signed in, making sure to click “Remember Me”, and allowing Chrome to remember the username and password. I then created an application shortcut with a link on her desktop titled “Comcast Email”.
Looking at Firefox, just the toolbar alone is enough to discourage newcomers.
When Chrome opens the new window, there’s that page with her most visited sites and recent bookmarks. I think she will become very accustomed to this and find it very easy to use.
I feel that Chrome follows that timeless saying, “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
I feel that no confusion about the web browser will make Mom’s browsing and emailing experiences very pleasant. Now we just have to get certain relatives to stop forwarding those Bill Gates emails promising thousands of dollars!