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The Ajax Spoof

December 7th, 2005 Leave a comment Go to comments

By now, I suspect you may have noticed this piece: Why Ajax Sucks (Most of the Time) which, at first glance, looks an awful lot like an Alertbox from noted usability expert Jakob Nielsen’s useit.com site. I for one am a fan of Alertbox and have read a couple of his books (and of course I think the other N in NN/g is one of the best minds around – check out his site: jnd.org and go read Design of Everyday Things. Seriously, go ahead, I’ll wait.) so I was really interested to see what Nielsen would have to say about Ajax. Of course, it didn’t take long to realize this was just a some folks having a little fun! BTW – Nielsen has posted a note on his site disavowing any connection…

The first notice I got of this was from my old college advisor – he wanted my input! I’m not sure if he knew it was a hoax (and was just testing me) or if he wanted my honest feedback. Ajaxian got into the mix too: Alertbox Spoof: “Why Ajax Sucks (Most of the Time)“. This clever piece arose from Confusability – and they’re having quite a bit of fun with it! Check out their link to the spoof, and their follow up Hurricane Ajax – The Aftermath.

While we can all have a good laugh about this little spoof, it does raise an important issue: what are the usability impacts of Ajax? Frankly, I think Ajax is one of the first technologies I’ve encountered where I can truly say – it significantly improves the user experience (if used properly). On my application we think Ajax can make a real difference – enhancements our customers will notice. But it has to be done with care. Like any good tool, Ajax can both help and hurt depending on how it’s applied. Done right, you’ll exceed users’ expectations. Do it poorly and all you’ll do is increase their frustration. How do you know what you’re doing? It’s really simple – just test it with real users. If you screwed up you’ll find out pretty fast.

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  1. December 8th, 2005 at 02:18 | #1

    Thanks for the thoughful post. You are spot on in your observations and I never intended for it to be taken this seriously.

    I have mentioned your post in the comments section for “Hurrinace Ajax”.

  2. December 8th, 2005 at 19:40 | #2

    Thanks Chris – I really enjoyed the spoof! Thanks for putting it out there, you’ve started a very useful conversation. I hope this gets people thinking about Ajax from the proper perspective: how does it help our users? Thanks for the comment!

  3. December 9th, 2005 at 04:41 | #3

    I notice it made Slashdot despite the spoof though… some people will never read to the end…

  4. December 9th, 2005 at 09:10 | #4

    Well, it *did* catch me :p. But if it had not been published on Slashdot, I would never have come accross it. Nice spoof anyway :D

    I commented it in my blog, over here.

  5. Jonex
    December 13th, 2005 at 06:55 | #5

    Even if it’s a spoof, it’s valid. Ajax share a lot of he disadvantages with frames. That’s why you always should consider alternative before using Ajax. But for sites like gmail it works quite fine, I never send a link to a recieved mail, I’ll send the mail itself if I want to. But te no-ajax version still is important since that enables me to check my mail even when using Safari.

    +3 Insightful, +1 Spoof.

  6. December 20th, 2005 at 20:30 | #6

    Well, I don’t think people should feel too bad about being caught up in the spoof – it really was spot on and made some excellent points. I do think Ajax is pretty great (hey, I did write a book about it!) but it isn’t the right solution for everything. Undoubtedly, we will see some really poor uses but that is natural with any new technology/technique. Heck, we’ve been writing web apps for nearly 10 years, thick apps for over 30, mainframe apps forever…and we still find ways to screw those up. Like most anything, the truth is in the middle. Ajax won’t cure all the world’s ills and it isn’t evil…it can make significant improvements to the user experience when done properly. Hopefully the “Slashdotting” will bring more attention to Ajax abuse without quelling Ajax development!

  7. Bluelobe
    July 17th, 2010 at 15:44 | #7

    Ajax made Yahoo Mail worse. I used to be able to create tabs of the various emails I want to read. Thanks to Yahoo Mail’s Ajax implementation, this has been prevented. I have to right-click and pick ‘create new tab’ instead of the pre-Ajax cmd-click on a mail link.

  1. December 12th, 2005 at 04:04 | #1
  2. January 5th, 2006 at 17:01 | #2

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