Jeffrey Veen – Ajax and Designing for Web 2.0

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Jeffrey VeenTonight I was happy to have the opportunity to meet Jeffrey Veen, Director of Product Design at Adaptive Path, and hear him speak on the subject of Ajax and Web 2.0 interface design at the very last San Francisco “Macromedia” (soon to become Adobe!) Users Forum meeting. The group videoed Jeff’s presentation; I will post a link when it is available. In the meantime, you can view essentially the same presentation, Designing for Web 2.0, from Web Essentials ’05. It was a great presentation. Thank you, Jeff.

The two biggest questions I had for Jeff about Ajax style interactive design were: A) how to effectively communicate and co-develop new, complex Ajax interfaces with traditional graphic designers who are used to static web page design, and B) how to reconcile the use of Ajax with the current state of web accessibility. Jeff was empathetic to both questions but didn’t really have answers much beyond “Ajax design is still new; we have to work through it” and “people are working on accessibility”. (I hope that’s a fair representation, Jeff. If not, please correct me.)

So, as working designers and developers, how do we develop with Ajax responsibly at this point in time? If we choose to incorporate Ajax interactivity in our web projects are we back to designing multiple sites for different users? God forbid we see the return of site intro pages with “Choose your version: HTML, Flash, or Ajax”.

I hope you will find this post a year from now using a fully-accessible WordPress Ajax search interface (we’ll laugh about how JAWS couldn’t yet interpret yellow fade events) but until then…I say that we balance our enthusiasm with a healthy dose of caution ensuring that we provide an equally good user experience for all visitors to our online masterpieces.