Web 2.0 and New Standards

How often do you pause in your reading of some article somewhere to notice an eye-catching link to the side? You’d most likely open the link in a new tab and continue your reading.
An article I was reading today, however, was on a very well-designed site in which these links would simply change some quick categories. It still took me a moment of thinking, though, before I realized that the link would activate some jQuery and AJAX, rather than navigate to some sort of page.
It struck me then that using regular links in that way isn’t how we should be doing things. I’ve never had this problem before, because I’d zoom around a well-developed site to look at the designs and features before I settled down to an article or two; and once someone settles down to read something, losing that page suddenly becomes a concern.
You’ll all know that links should have underlines and that buttons should press in when you click on them, and also that selectables should change their state when they’ve been selected. In the new web, we’ll have to add a good number of new conventions, now that we’ll actually be able to do some amazing things.

jQuery allows us to animate elements, change the classes (and thus the styles) of any elements, move the structure of the page around or completely change it, and even load information from another page. These asynchronous JavaScript and XML (or PHP) calls are special in a number of ways:

  • They don’t require a page refresh, so you don’t have to worry about scrolling back or waiting forever for your old page to reload
  • You don’t usually have to wait at all, because you can do something else while waiting. It’s even possible to create an empty ‘loading’ page that would quickly load everything except the content, then use AJAX to load the rest of the page, as seen here. It may not be a good idea, though, because if the user has javascript disabled there’s no fallback plan.
  • You can change random settings without having to go through menus and reloading pages
  • It gives a site that futuristic feel.

“Wait,” you say, “the page doesn’t change when you use AJAX?” No, just one little part of it does. And because of that, hyperlinks are misleading.

I suggest that we give AJAX links a different feel. They aren’t buttons, but they aren’t links, either. I’ve seen faded boxes around them, so that it seems like a push-button or tabs.

This whole post kind of escaped on me and wriggled around a couple different topics. I’ll leave you with a last little morsel, which was found on Viget:Soon the only users on IE6 will be designers & developers trying to troubleshoot the outdated browser. This will generate false positives on stats pages throughout the internet.

I can totally imagine it.

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