Fresh: mailbag

XIV.6 November + December 2007
Page: 22
Digital Citation

Coming clean with AJAX


Authors:
Jonathan Arnowitz, Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson

I enjoyed reading Daniel F. Zucker’s article “What Does Ajax mean for You?” (“Nuts and Bolts,” September-October 2007). I thought it gave a nice introduction to the AJAX topic from a designer’s perspective. As a person with an interest in design as well as in technologies, I want to emphasize that understanding AJAX is important for most interaction designers. AJAX provides us interaction capabilities similar to local applications. The development of micro-formats and other data structures also assists with designing and developing data-savvy applications, such as enterprise applications, and designing great experiences.

I would like to refer some additional relevant information on this topic:

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajax_(programming)
  • http://ajaxian.com/by/topic/design/
  • http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/air/develop_ajax.html
  • http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/ajaxdp/
  • http://www.maxkiesler.com/index.php/weblog/comments/20_trusted_ajax_dhtml_and_javascript_tool_sites/

However, I’d also like to point out that AJAX has some important disadvantages when used for websites. Massive usage of JavaScript and dynamic data is not a good practice when considering accessibility. The screen readers and other tools currently available do not provide good service to the people who are using them with this type of page.

Finally, “find-ability” and Web analytics are important to many websites. We should take into account the effort invested in search engine optimization (SEO) activities when using AJAX. And more importantly, AJAX is no cure for bad interactive or visual design. You can still fail using this technology, so do not hang all your hopes on it!

Authors

Etay Gafni
User Experience Architect
SAP Labs
Palo Alto, CA.

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