Understanding the difference between a toolbar and a browser theme can be difficult for the average user. Here is one way to think about it: a browser theme can have a toolbar as part of its interface, as a toolbar can be integrated within a theme. The reverse is not possible. It is important to understand the functionality of a toolbar versus a browser theme.
We have toolbars on our computer monitors, and these are widgets. These are on-screen tabs, buttons, menus, icons, or other input/output components that we use. Toolbars give us easy access to what we need in our office suites, and web browsers. Most of the time a toolbar is located horizontally at the top or bottom of our screens.
There are (2) types of toolbars:
This is where we keep our ‘favorite go to’s’ and all contemporary web browsers have these (Firefox, Safari, IE, and Chrome). The bookmark toolbar provides the user with quick access to all the information they frequently seek out online including web bookmarks, folders of bookmarks, live bookmarks, and web/info feeds.
Modern websites like Facebook, MySpace, and CNN.com have website toolbars. This type of toolbar provides the user with quick access to a specific website’s features. For example on Facebook, we are able to quickly access the features we need by using the tool bar. Example: Home, Profile, Account, Messages, Chat, etc.
Website toolbars are different from Bookmark/Browser toolbars as website toolbars appear when a user is on a specific site unlike bookmark/browser toolbars, which appear consistently no matter which site a user is surfing through.
As indicated above, browser themes can have toolbars implemented within the theme. A toolbar can be part of the overall theme whereas a browser theme cannot be part of a toolbar. The big difference between a toolbar and a browser theme is that browser themes have more complex graphics. Visually this is a huge difference as the user can see much more on the theme in a very defined and bold way.
Browser themes have the ability to take the information that is being presented to the user and not only make it interactive, but update with new designs and graphics on a regular basis. These (3) qualities are what separate browser themes from standard toolbars.
Graphic Ability – Heavy graphic design is needed to create a browser theme as its parts are much more complex than that of a standard toolbar. These graphic abilities engage the user visually and capture their attention in ways beyond that of a standard toolbar.
Interactive Ability – Browser themes are alive as they provide news feeds, videos, and links to social media sites directly in the browser. A standard toolbar does not have this ability.
Updates – The information in a browser theme can be updated. Unlike standard toolbars, where the user quickly tires of the stagnant information presented to them; browser themes keep the user engaged by frequently changing the appearance of graphics and interactive information provided.
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