Thursday, December 06, 2007

Ajax Usability Concerns

How Ajax can affect usability ...

"At the Future of Web Design conference in New York, Ryan Singer of 37 Signals and Jonathan Snook of snook.ca led interesting seminars on web application usability and Ajax design, respectively. These subjects are very much related, as Ajax is commonly used to create web applications and so can positively or negatively affect usability.

Ajax’s biggest benefit to the user is its speed. If well prepared, Ajax apps on a web page will move very fast, because only small amounts of data will update or refresh. The whole page need not reload. The speed makes these applications, in general, more interactive and engaging.

However, the speed and the fact that changes often only occur in small areas of a web page can actually pose problems from a usability standpoint. Every morning, I visit washingtonpost.com and read the comics, which are posted in an Ajax-based tabbed list. When I’m done with the comics in the first tab, I move to the second. Sometimes, the speed of the update and the similar appearance of the content confuses me, leaving me thinking that the change hasn’t occurred yet. I wait awhile only to realize that the new content has been ready and waiting for me all along.

The similarity of the content in the two tabs makes it hard to tell that a change has occurred.

The problem here is that users expect the page to reload whenever changes are made. When only a small part of a page is updated and the overall content or design is largely unaffected, new material can easily go unnoticed. Adding a small animated transition or even just making a static but noticeable change to the visual display of the content can usually solve this problem."    (Continued via Notes on Design)    [Usability Resources]

Similar Tabs Hard to Read - Usability, User Interface Design

Similar Tabs Hard to Read

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