Monday, October 13, 2008
Full-day Seminar, 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Jeremy Keith

Bulletproof Ajax: Designing Interactive and Usable Ajax Solutions

Jeremy Keith, Clearleft

Would you like to learn more about the newest and most powerful technologies on the web? Do you want to know how Ajax can enhance the interactivity on your web site? Do you need to add sophisticated client-side interaction to your web designs, while making sure your pages work when JavaScript is not available?

Fortunately, for our designs, the full-page-refresh approach isn't the only way to interact with users. We can now add the next level of interactivity, giving applications and web pages a more responsive feel. And now, we don't have to do this at the expense of users with older browsers or requiring accessibility support.

We want to include the dynamic power we see in applications like Google Maps, Google Gmail, and Google Suggest. These applications give an almost-desktop-like feel, supporting instant responses as the user types or drags items around the screen. And now, with the continuing adoption of standards compliant-browsers that support Ajax technology, (most notably Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Internet Explorer 6,) most of our users can take advantage of designs incorporating these capabilities.

The widespread use of Ajax has brought the approach a ton of attention. As a result, Ajax is now surrounded by tremendous hype, making it seem more mysterious or complex than it really is. In fact, the underlying technology behind Ajax is quite simple. When designers realize how easy Ajax is to implement, a whole world of possibilities open up.

For example:

  • The photo page at the photo-sharing site,, demonstrates how designers can attain aggregate benefits by using lots of small Ajax enhancements to make the page feel more like an application, without going overboard.
  • The newly-redesigned BBC home page sports plenty of JavaScript enhancements. However, if JavaScript is not available, the user can still accomplish all the same tasks.
  • The sign-up process on the list-making web site, Remember The Milk, uses cleverly-placed JavaScript enhancements to make a common task flow a better experience for the user.

To help designers see how easy it is to bring graceful, smooth Ajax interactions into their designs, we've turned to Jeremy Keith, renowned author and thought-leader in advanced browser-based user interface design. He's put together an information-packed full-day seminar to show you exactly what Ajax can do, and all the ways you can take advantage of its full power, without sacrificing those users who can't take complete advantage of it.

At this seminar, you will:

  • See how easy it is to create powerful interactive pages by aggregating small "bites" of interaction functionality.
  • Learn the essential actions of Ajax and how it works, giving you a language to talk with developers, and a solid understanding of its capabilities and limitations.
  • Identify when it's ideal to implement Ajax, because it could improve the user experience, and when it's not, because it could confuse the user and add unnecessary complications to a web page.
  • Learn to overcome common design challenges, such as providing feedback to the user that an Ajax request is underway.
  • Discuss important accessibility challenges, such as notifying a screen reader that the page has been updated.
  • Explore the advantages and disadvantages of the different data formats that are available for transferring data from the server to the client: XML, JSON or HTML.
  • See how you can avoid creating complex form-validation logic with JavaScript, only to have your server developers create it in another language for the server.

Who Should Attend

This seminar is perfect for Web Designers who are well grounded in HTML. Basic JavaScript knowledge is useful but not required. While Jeremy will show the underlying code that makes Ajax work, he'll be guiding you through the key concepts, ensuring you understand what the code does, even if it feels a bit foreign to you. When you're done, you should be comfortable talking with the development team about both the capabilities and limitations of a proper Ajax implementation.

UI13 Seminar Recommendations: If you're interested in Jeremy's full-day seminar, you may also want to attend Jeff Patton's seminar on Agile Development or Kim Goodwin's seminar on The Essentials of Interaction Design.