Well what else is new? People like to hold on to old ways and bitch about change. Earlier tonight, Model Mayhem rolled out a new feature to allow viewing of portfolio images using AJAX technology instead of the very dated static “picture in html page” method. AJAX is nothing new and has been a mainstay of new web technology for several years since the first draft specification was released by the W3C back in 2006 as a web standard.
Before AJAX, each click to see a new image resulted in a new page being served. Not only was this inefficient as the servers have to render new content, including duplicate content, but it also used up unnecessary bandwidth. The abrupt removal of the old page content and re-rendering of the new page content caused a break in the viewing experience. Those with fast internet connections may not see it but those with slower connections saw a brief flicker during the transition.
Advantages and drawback of AJAX
AJAX solves some of those problems by rendering new images without affecting the underlying page content. This allows for smooth transitions and even special effects such as fade to next image. There are however some drawbacks to AJAX. Without special programming, the back button does not always take the user to the previous image but instead takes them to the page before any images were rendered or even some other point altogether. This can be overcome with the use of iFrames and fragment identifiers. Other drawbacks include the inability to bookmark the images. Right clicking on the image to save the images url will result in the image jpg url being saved instead of the image page url. This potentially denies the author of the work recognition and credit since no identifying information is contained in the jpg url unless the author watermarks the images.
Progress comes at a price
Another unexpected drawback for websites is that they may become a victim of their own success. The ease in which AJAX serves images and improved user experiences may cause users to view more images in a shorter amount of time. While this is a good thing for websites and their users, care should be taken to insure the infrastructure is in place to handle additional loads.