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A Journal about the experiences I have developing little applications in C#, Perl, Html and Javascript and talking about things new things that I use. Always Geeky; Always Nerdy; Always poor Grammer!

I am a Software Analyst Developer working in Southport, England but living in Liverpool. I develop mainly in C# and ASP.Net. I have been developing comercial software for several years now. I maintain this site (hosted at SwitchMedia UK) as a way of exploring new technologies (such as AJAX) and just generally talking about techie geek issues. This site is developed through a host of Perl scripts and a liberal use of Javascript. I enjoy experimenting with new technologies and anything that I make I host here.

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Web www.kinlan.co.uk

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Failures of my First AJAX application: Part 5

This is the 5th post about the failures of my AJAX application and it is subtitled "It wasn't visible to people other than myself what it actually achieved."

If you were to look at my application without me explaining what it did, you would not understand what it did and what it was supposed to achieve. I am a great beliver in intuitiveness and the ability to understand what an application\product is supposed to do with very little prompting from a user manual.

If you look at Google's site, you know you are supposed to use it to search the Internet and that when you try to search you know that you are about to do it….. If you get my meaning.

The AJAXTagger wasn’t in the slightest bit intuitive, it wasn't obvious what it was supposed take as input and neither was it clear what it should produce as an output. Through each stage of interaction with the application it wasn’t clear what the user was supposed to do to move on to the next stage.

I asked a couple of my friends to try it, and they got stuck at the first page (the page where you insert the text that you want tagging). They didn’t see the point (until I showed them a Demo). Once they started using it, it was quite simple for them to see how to use it.

I found it really useful. From taking about an hour to do a complete post (including Technorati Tags) it now only takes the time it takes to write the entry; about 30 minutes in total.

The next version of the application must be intuitive. It must be obvious what the program does, what it achieves and what user interaction it expects. Not only for my use, but if I wanted to promote the application and get as many people as I can to use then it must work and work well.

Some of this can be solved by some hints and tips in the application; others can be solved by better visual queues (maybe including a sample document to tag – to show the user what is expected as an initial input) and perhaps other problems can be solved by a more insightful UI. Finally, better user documentation would be needed.

If you have any recommendations about making the AJAXTagger easier to use and more insightful please email or post a comment. I will respond to every comment.

Paul.kinlan@gmail.com

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