One of the great advantages of a thin-client solution is the ability to inexpensively deploy your software to a much larger user base. Novice users often learn in a cognitive mode with little to no formal training. This type of learning relies on past experience and behavioral consistency to be effective. Software that has an inconsistent look and feel often results in significant support costs and rejection by the users to which it was intended.
To complicate matters, the browser is not very friendly to the concept of applications. When in a browser, we don’t select from a Start; menu to launch another thin-client solution. Instead, we simply click on a link and the content is displayed. Since all of the application content is only one click away, your design must provide a unified workspace where content, rather then the traditional menu structure, is the main navigation method. To solve this problem, developers need design standards and patterns for different classes of users (novice, expert, etc.) and different deployment platforms.
The guidelines need to address implementations with both rich GUI interfaces and more constrained web-based interfaces. Collecting and sharing this design knowledge should be accomplished via a web-based knowledge repository that allows for easy update, access, and dissemination of the design patterns developed within the organization.
Implementing a thin-client application can result in a highly scalable solution that dramatically reduces deployment costs for your users and provides a consistent, easy to use interface for even the most novice users. Just realize that the path to success has been traveled by others who have made these mistakes. If you learn from them, you will have a much better chance of achieving success in your thin-client migration efforts.