[MSNBC.com:Usability] The Anti-AJAX Feature-of-the-Day

by M. David Peterson

DISCLAIMER: The title is not intended to suggest that AJAX is a bad, horrible, and evil thing in which requires an Anti-AJAX activist effort. However, it is to suggest that usability should *ALWAYS* be the primary focus of any web-based and/or desktop-based application. While not directly related to Asynchronous communications, Javascript, or XML, given that the feature of an AJAX-enabled page that is most often noticed and therefore implemented is that of an active/re-active interface, there has developed a strong connection between an AJAX-based web page and poor usability practice. Therefore, the connection with the title.

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Fly-out menus that are activated via a mouseover event are what I would term an Anti-Usability feature as in *MOST* cases they are designed to fly-out over the top of the text of a given page, covering up whatever it is you happen to be reading. This is fine when the action requires a click (or the Enter key if you are tabbing your way through links), but when all that is required is a mouseover, more often than not the action is activated at a moment when you have no desire for it to be activated.

If a page has been designed using usability as the primary focus, things such as menus, in-line ads, and other often "active" elements contained within any given page should never fly-out unless an action that can be deemed as "user instantiated" (such as a click) has taken place.

The reason?

2 Comments

Dimitri Glazkov
2006-09-12 10:37:03
Umm.. How can your post be anti-AJAX, if it criticizes something that doesn't use AJAX? :)


On the other note, yes, extremely annoying, and yes, has been there for as long as I can remember.

M. David Peterson
2006-09-12 11:32:14
Hey Dimitri,


>> Umm.. How can your post be anti-AJAX, if it criticizes something that doesn't use AJAX? :)


Yeah, I tried to clarify that a bit in the disclaimer, but obviously didn't do a very good job. The reason for the title is simple: People will react to the title "The Anti-AJAX Feature-of-the-Day" more so than they would "Good Example of Web Usability."


Yeah, I know... LAME!!! But when the message you are desirous to send is that of something you deem as important, finding ways for people to visit and therefore read has proven to be an art form in and of itself. Dan Zambonini recently showcased the perfect use-case proving once and for all (and he states this very clearly in the post) that if you are desirous of people to visit and (hopefully!) read, you have to play the "Most Controversial Title You Can Think Of" game if you hope to have even the most remote chance of success > http://www.oreillynet.com/xml/blog/2006/07/linux_sucks_apple_sucks_and_po.html


>> and yes, has been there for as long as I can remember.


The ability to turn it off, or the fly-out menus in particular? If the latter, I guess I *AM* completely dense.


Oh well... Such is life... ;) :D


Thanks for taking the time to comment!