Simon Miller Team : Web Development Tags : Technology

Keep It Simple, Stupid

Simon Miller Team : Web Development Tags : Technology

As the pace of technology increases, and the speed and clarity of our computers (and mobiles, and tablets) continue to improve, the ability – as well as temptation – to make every part of your webpage fade in, scroll out, pop-up and generally AJAX-ify anything and everything at all possible. jQuery has made such feats easier, but should just do it “because”?

Sure you can make your home page the stand-out part of your website. Scrolling galleries, videos, the works – a dynamic homepage can resonate with your user and keep them engaged and interested in clicking into one of your other pages. But once they are there – stop. Users by-and-large are just after information, and they want that information quickly. Do not stand in the way of the user getting their information or they will go somewhere else.

Having a YouTube video on every page is a no-no. These things cause the page to lag when loading as the remote server calls are made, plus the notoriously-flaky Flash object can cause the page to completely freeze for a second while it does its thing.

Replacing otherwise perfectly functional HTML hyperlinks and submit buttons with crazy AJAX post-backs just for the sake of it is also something I frown upon. The first big issue is of course users who have JavaScript disabled (and there are still those that do this) will not be able to navigate your site, unless you provide a fall-back. Even so, for users with all the bells-and-whistles enabled there are still issues.

For example, users still rely on their browsers back button to navigate back to where they were. If the user had to open half a dozen jQuery AJAX panels before finally being able to submit a form, and then after reaching their destination decide to back out, when they return to the previous page all the AJAX panels will be closed and the user will need to open them all again. Sure there are ways around this using even more jQuery libraries and URL-rewriting, but if you are reaching this point then consider the title of this post. Why bother? The browser is perfectly able to provide URL level navigation using its built in technology, and HTML offers native code to submit forms and redirect a user – all without excessive load on the user’s browser. Particularly on the not-the-current-model smart phones, going to a website filled with overused technologies for the sake of it can be a frustrating experience.

Remember: less is more. Keep it simple, stupid.