Google Analytics has included the ability to track AJAX requests for quite a while, but I don’t know how much awareness there is of this particular feature. Personally, I just discovered it the other day. I was looking at my Analytics data for a particular page on which I heavily use AJAX to replace all of the body content based on form selections. At that point, it occurred to me that, while I was getting good information about the numbers and types of people visiting the page, I wasn’t getting any segmented data based on the information they were requesting.
jQuery offers some really powerful functions and methods to utilize AJAX. One that I’ve discovered recently is the .find() method. The .find() method allows you to search for a specific HTML ID within some HTML and then returns only the content found within that ID.
With AJAX becoming more and more prevalent, we, as developers, sometimes forget that the average user might not realize parts of the page have changed after an AJAX event has fired. This becomes especially problematic when the changes are occurring outside of the current viewport (which is highly likely if you have a large percentage of visitors using an 800×600 or even a 1024×768 screen resolution).
Let’s say you have a page with multiple thumbnails that can be clicked to load the full-sized image in a specific area of the page. In the old days, we would have done this in one of two ways: 1) Make the link actually lead to a different page with that new image shown or 2) Load all of the images at once, hiding them with CSS, slowing down the initial load time of the page.
It just bothers me, as someone who railed against Flash for so long only to see the days of pointless Flash splash pages finally go by the wayside. Now, to see Flash seemingly making a comeback in such a big way (at least, among higher education Web sites) really upsets me. To me, it actually seems almost lazy.
Enough of my tirade. What are your thoughts? Am I just super-sensitive to this, or are you noticing a comeback in Flash usage, as well? Does it bother you to see that, or are you okay with it? If Flash is necessary for certain applications, what are some ways you can make it accessible to disabled users?