E-Commerce Insights: AJAX - Hero of E-Commerce?
I chose to devote this month’s column to AJAX, the scorching-hot technology that catalogers should become fully familiar with, if they’re not already. So let’s cut right to the chase and answer six key questions about AJAX.
1. Just what is AJAX?
In common usage, AJAX is meant more broadly to describe any on-page Web interactivity, regardless of underlying technology. These pages can resemble desktop applications with immediate drag-and-click responsiveness. Classic AJAX applications include Google Docs, Google Maps and Gmail.
2. How can AJAX help catalogers?
Smart catalogers are at the very least using smidgens of AJAX here and there to make their Web sites more user-friendly.
If you visit a Lands’ End product page for a woman’s dress, you’ll see all possible colors and sizes. If you select an unavailable combination, you’ll immediately see a pop-up box saying something along the lines of, “Sorry, this product is not available in Washed Coral in size 6.”
The response is instant; the page doesn’t refresh. And once you’ve selected a size, any unavailable colors are de-emphasized via gray dashes around the swatch.
In contrast, other clothing sites require users to hit “submit” for each size/color combination to check availability. This increases user frustration and decreases conversion.
In the next few years, we’ll see entire catalog sites executed in AJAX. Visit demo.script.aculo.us/shop to see a small demo of adding items to an online cart by dragging the thumbnails.