Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

Breaking User Interfaces for Fun and Profit

Category: JavaScript, UI, Usability

<p> For all of the good uses of Ajax out there, there are still some really really (*really*) bad ones that come to mind. Unfortunately, some site developers just don’t quite know when to stop, and this post on SitePoint.com today (by Alex Walker) points out just such a perpetrator – Art.com.

Art.com is a large, commerical art site selling prints to the public—over 300,000 of them, framed, mounted or otherwise. Their display pages are a model of efficient elegance—not dissimilar in style to Flickr in some ways—generally letting the artwork speak for itself.

But apparently, there wasn’t enough ‘wow-factor’. “We’re paying these developers—get them to come up with something that’s cool or hot or sick or whatever it is the kids want to be these days”.

So, what exactly is it that makes their implementation a pain? Try something out – go to this page and try to use the drop-down list. Fun, huh? It’s a good idea to break a web standard and use a custom solution when all someone wants is a simple option. Plus, the grow effect causes some distortion in Firefox (and other issues, try dragging the window too. and don’t get me started on what happens if Javascript is disabled) .

Okay, so we can all agree that Ajax is cool, and yes, there are some cool user interface additions that can be made with its help, but if you make a drop-down box, make it work like a drop-down box. Web users look for interface items they know and like to use them – don’t mess with that.

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Posted by Chris Cornutt at 7:26 am
13 Comments

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4 rating from 18 votes

13 Comments »

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And how is that AJAX? It is a stunningly bad DHTML implementation, but there is as far as I can see no AJAX in it…

Comment by Chris Heilmann — July 25, 2006

The new wave of DOM scripting and DHTML has the capabilities to be amazing (and on many sites it is) but it could also go the same way as Flash did for a while.
Bloated, not-required and completly breaks all usability conventions.
Hopefully there will be more ‘good’ developers who know that just because you can do something doesnt mean you should. Than those ‘Ohhh spangily!!!’ type developers ;)

Comment by Aaron Bassett — July 25, 2006

They’re not the only ones. eBay is pulling the same tricks now, instead of doing an overhaul of their old and painful site. Check out the dropdown menus in My eBay.

Comment by Iain Delaney — July 25, 2006

Wow.. unbelievably bad. This is why Flash is not doing so well, people creating their own hacks on interfaces that confuse the user and cause problems for adaptive technologies. Please, lets keep a dropdown list a dropdown list. Ajax is fun, but only in moderation.

Comment by Ryan Lowe — July 25, 2006

That is a stunningly stupid use of money and time. Someone needs to be hit on the nose with a rolled up magazine.

Comment by Scott — July 25, 2006

Wow. They could at least used a library to handle this. If you don’t know how to do it… don’t. — Especially on a high traffic site.

Comment by Eddy Luten — July 25, 2006

A funny observation:

Of the commentators, 6 of 7 (including Ajaxian) uses a blogging tool, utilized even by people with little programming skills.

Hey..here is a crazy idea; lets all use WordPress, ready-to-go-libraries, critisize others and talk about Ajax instead of practicing it…

I don’t think they have done anything special…but than again…

Comment by Anonymous — July 25, 2006

A funny observation:

Of the commentators, 6 of 7 (including Ajaxian) uses a blogging tool, utilized even by people with little programming skills.

Hey..here is a crazy idea; lets all use WordPress, ready-to-go-libraries, critisize others and talk about Ajax instead of practicing it…

I don’t think they have done anything special…but than again…

Comment by Eddie Murphy — July 25, 2006

All I see is “Access Denied” in a separate window. Did I have to turn Javascript on? But I was not told to, the site does not check for it and *this* is really bad.

Comment by Michael Jouravlev — July 26, 2006

well i think it depends on the choices you want to present to users
here, they needed to show extra-info which would be impossible to show with a classical drop-down.

i agree however that the implementation is *quite* bad.

Comment by heri — July 26, 2006

Best website ever.
I especially like the drag effect for the size popup window.
Genious. It’s like having a seizure and sneezing at the same time!

Comment by Dan — July 27, 2006

You know why people double post?
Because the f***ing script hasn’t been fixed, and no one is sure when they have actually posted. Please, may I download a PHP file. Or maybe look at a blank screen. Jerks.

Comment by Dan — July 27, 2006

I sure miss the old Saturday Night Eddie Murphy.

Comment by mr skin — October 23, 2006

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