Friday, May 15, 2009

How not to use AJAX

I believe I've finally seen the worst example of an AJAX website. You can see clearly that the team who designed the website do not use the basic web interface guidelines. AJAX is suppose to help make the website more user friendly. Not this example...

And the website belongs to ... ... *drum roll* SGX.

Let me use this stocks page as an example. These are some points of what you should not do for an AJAX site:
  • Previously when you click on the company's name, you'll get the company's announcements in a pop-up. Now when you click on it, only the checkbox will be checked/unchecked. No one will know what the heck is happening.

    So is it apparent how to retrieve the company's announcements? Obviously not.

    If you're interested, the way to view the company's announcement is to click on the column Cde (Most probably stands for company code). I found that out by accident.

  • After clicking on the company's announcements, and you wish to go back to the previous page, what do you do? Previously, you'll just close the pop-up window. Now?

    No idea... There's no breadcrumb that helps you to navigate the site. So all you can do is to press the browser's back button.

    Now here comes the problem. When you click on the back button, it doesn't bring you back to the original page you've clicked. Yes! I've no idea how it passed the usability test! Just imagine, you're looking at maybe the 10th page and you click on the announcements. When you press the back button, you're redirected back to the 1st page instead of the 10th page!

  • Sometimes after clicking on the company's announcements, you'll just get a blank page or get some funny codes that appear on the screen. Refreshing the page will not work.

    No problem. I thought I will just press the back button and click on it again.

    Boy was I wrong. When I go back, the same problem I've described in the point above comes back again! My original page is gone! I need to look for the page all over again.

There are many more weird things in the website but I think the top 3 is enough to drive anybody away.

When you try to implement a solution, for goodness sake look at your end-objective and your target audience. Know what your audience is doing and how are they navigating your website. It is quite obvious that the SGX team does not know how the users use their website. This looks to me like a classic example of implementing a technology just because it's the latest and coolest, without thinking through if it will benefit the end-users. Otherwise, how could anyone launch such a website?

There's only one word that can describe the new SGX website. It sucks!

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