Saturday, July 22, 2006

Is Ajax ready for prime time?

Another look at AJAX in action ...

"Yahoo has launched a redesign of their homepage recently, making ambitious use of Ajax-inspired design techniques and technologies. As Dan Saffer noted on the Adaptive Path blog, "People like my parents, who have never used Google Maps or shopped at The Gap online, much less used hipster sites like Flickr, will now be exposed to what can now be done online."

This feels like a relatively big step in the evolution of what is possible to achieve with web interfaces. Not that these simple interactions and browser-based technologies are particularly new - the effects on the Yahoo! page could have been produced years ago. Rather, it will help a far broader set of people become accustomed to a new set of expectations for the sites they use every day. (Well, unless they use Safari. Yahoo is still serving the old home page for those users.)

Perhaps more interesting, though, is the technological precedent being set. Much like Doug Bowman's standards-based redesign of Wired News years ago, Ajax at Yahoo may signal to conservative IT managers that it's finally ok to loosen the reigns a bit. This technology is in the hands of the majority of users. Let's use it!

It can be so frustrating for designers trying to push an agenda of simplicity and ease of use to be thwarted by developers unwilling to experiment with what's possible today. Of course, the converse is just as true - slow-adopting designers can drag even the most innovative team down. The fact is, a rational process is driven more by personality and emotion than most of us ever acknowledge."   (Continued via Jeffrey Veen)       [Usability Resources]

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