AJAX pioneer emphasizes user experiences

Technology products are related to as if they are people, says Jesse James Garrett, who coined the term AJAX

The inventor of the term AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), urged attendees at The Rich Web Experience conference in San Jose on Friday to emphasize user experience when designing products.

Jesse James Garrett, founder of the Adaptive Path consulting firm and coiner of the term AJAX, stressed that users want a personal relationship with products they use. His emphasis on user experience echoed, to a degree, those made by Kevin Hoyt, Adobe Systems platform evangelist, during Hoyt's own presentation on Thursday.

The brain mechanisms engaged when using an interactive product are the same mechanisms engaged when interacting with other human beings, Garrett said. "In other words, we relate to technology products as if they were people," he said.

Garrett cited the iPod as an example of product that has presented an experience for the user. Even though it was not the first digital music player and has not had the most features, the iPod has been successful because of the experience it delivers, according to Garrett.

Flickr is an example of Web company that has presented an experience, establishing itself as a hub for digital photography, Garrett said.

AJAX, he said, has been about delivering rich experiences. He attributed the success of AJAX to the success of Google Maps.

"I don't know if the concept of AJAX [would have] really taken off if it hadn't been for an example as compelling as Google Maps.

With software development, there is a shift toward developing the user experience component first and working backward toward other components, Garrett said. Previously, developers started with a core of data and then dealt with business logic and then the user experience.

Development of the Web, meanwhile, has reached an interesting point in time, Garrett said. Just as TV came into its own as a medium after 10 years, having first followed the paradigms of radio and theater, the central principles of the Web are starting to be understood after 10 years, he said.

"For us on the Web, I think we're in a similar place in the evolution of the medium that we all work in," he said.

But tools vendors have not seized the opportunity to make their Web development tools more compelling for developers, Garrett said.

Noting the proliferation of AJAX toolkits and frameworks, Garrett said there would be a time when the good ones are separated form the bad ones. "I think there is an inevitable period of time that we're just going to have to ride out," Garrett said.

Commenting on Web 2.0, Garrett said YouTube is the poster child for Web 2.0.

"YouTube as a site has almost no value as a site if not for its users," said Garrett. "The value that people get out of it is the value that other people put into it."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Paul Krill

Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?