AJAX: What The Heck Is It?

Ajax is the new web 2.0 fad, and it is probably here to stay for quite some time. AJAX, or Asynchronous Javascript and XML, is a method used to communicate with the server and load new content in a website without having to reload the page. You’ve probably seen it all over the web, but possibly without necessarily thinking about what it is. The minor difference makes a huge positive impact on users, and a pretty negative impact on page impressions.

So what type of things would AJAX come in handy for? Well a very common implementation is for search tools. Say you are on a site looking for houses and there are tons of criteria you can enter in to narrow down your search. It is really helpful to see how each change in your criteria affects your results. To offer constant feedback, web developers need to use AJAX to bring back search results each time you change criteria. If they didn’t use AJAX, you’d be staring at a page reload every time, and that’d be mindbogglingly annoying…

So now maybe you understand the benefits of AJAX. It makes for a much more fun and usable experience for users as they traverse your website. The serious downside is a decrease in your pageviews. Every time you make an AJAX call, you lose what would have been a new page load and thus a new pageview. With each pageview (if you know what’s good for you AND have a highly trafficked website), you gain ad income. Now you could argue that with the improved user experience, you’ll make up for the lost pageviews in your AJAX tool with more devoted users (an argument I agree with), but that doesn’t cut it for everyone.

So make the choice to go with AJAX. In an upcoming post, I’ll write about the basics of AJAX and how to implement it.

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