bunn (bunn) wrote,

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Ajax - what gives?

Ajax is popping up all over. This, in case you are one of the multitude that doesn't know or care, is a technology that allows a page to change without refreshing the whole of itself. So for example, you might have a checkbox that saves the page automatically when you check it, rather than having to press a separate button. It's a clever little idea that uses Javascript. So far, so good.

It's sprouting all over the web - most recently, I notice that my Amazon recommendations list has sprouted Ajax checkboxes.

Now, I don't MIND Amazon putting in Ajax checkboxes. It does me no harm. But the precise moment when I noticed these checkboxes was the moment when I was thinking that it was a bit sad that having been such a trailblazer in the area of ecommerce, the Amazon shop hadn't really moved on much for years, and is really showing its age.

They are using a shop that was designed for books and CDs to sell duvets and printer cartridges, and it's just not designed for the job. It's difficult to search or surf these alternative products successfully, and don't even get me onto the topic of trying to navigate their abysmally poorly structured digital photography section which totally fails to handle at all the concept that new models come out often and nobody wants to see the old ones.

They haven't solved the niggling book problems either - for example, they still don't organise books into series. Bloody annoying if you are trying to decide which work by a new author to start with. A niggle, back in 2000. But it's 2007! Can we not have a couple new database fields please! There's no way to identify a book that has been published under 2 titles, either. Again, I can kind of understand that for obscure authors and titles which sell 441 copies , but surely Amazon have enough resource that they could do something to make it clear that some of the His Dark Materials series are available under more than one title?

And the suggestion function hasn't visibly improved in years - in fact the addition of all the new categories has buggered it. I'm happy to get book suggestions from Amazon, but when it comes to printer cartridges - I don't want those on my suggestion list. That's just stupid. And while I'm at it, it would be nice to have a better way of indicating items I've bought as gifts, that don't in a thousand years indicate that I would ever consider buying other items in that genre. OK, you can do that by checking 'not interested' on each one, but it's slow. I'd rather be able to check a 'don't use this for my suggestions' box against the whole order.

I bet there's someone at Amazon now feeling all smug that they've gone all Web 2.0 because they've sprinkled on a bit of javascript. IT'S JUST PRETTIFICATION PEOPLE! What happened to looking at the overall user experience? It's bloody flash all over again.

It's unkind of me to blame Amazon. What's annoying me is that this same clever little bit of JS is being hyped as some sort of wonder-solution. I just don't hate submit buttons that much!


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