Using Ajax with a Business Website
Taking a step away from my previous post critisizing the use of Ajax and other dynamic website features, Ajax does have uses in business and other website designs. Ajax has an ability to simplify a user’s experience on a website when used properly. It ‘can’ provide very user friendly interfaces that work smoothly, quickly, and better than traditional programming.
A savvy website owner asks the question, How can I integrate Ajax into my business website while still maintaining a usable website with a professional appearance?
Here is my list of usable Ajax for the business and ecommerce website.
Customer Contact Forms
The final goal of most business and ecommerce websites is for a customer to fill out an application or make a purchase from them. Ajax forms can make this entire process much cleaner. The visitor never leaves the page, no reloading, refreshing, or even switching pages. The contact form is submitted, and almost instantly, the form received message appears. This is a perfect use for Ajax on the business website. There are a number of developed Ajax contact scripts, and I recommend Dustin Diaz’s php based Ajax contact form.
Add to Cart Links:
When a visitor adds a product to their shopping cart, it is instantly updated, and the user doesn’t need to leave the page they are on, refresh, or anything else to continue shopping. This also works very well if custom features need to be added to an item. The website dynamically updates that item in the shopping cart and the user doesn’t need to go through a complicated process to customize their item. There is a lot of debate on whether it is better to instantly redirect shoppers to their cart when they purchase something, so testing should be done to ensure that a positive outcome results from using a dynamic add to cart script. Additionally, it is extremely important that the visitor knows that something was added to their shopping cart, and I recommend replacing the add to cart button itself with some sort of ‘item added to cart’ message.
Dynamic Shipping Calculation:
One of the easiest and a most effective uses of Ajax is dynamically updating a customer’s shipping method and price. This makes a shopper’s experience smoother, and the shipping calculation can be performed earlier in the buying cycle, for better overall usability.
There are a variety of Ajax Map API’s and scripts that give websites a very easy way to show customer how to find their business. Things like Point A – B driving directions can be dynamically calculated for the visitor. An Ajax map is one of the stronger Ajax uses, that many business can benefit from.
Product and Image Rollovers:
When a user places their mouse over, or clicks on an object, Ajax can deliver a clean rollover with extra information or a larger product image. Old Navy has already implemented this on their website. I also just noticed yesterday that eBay is using Ajax rollovers for some of images when browsing through auction listings (Look for images with an ‘enlarge’ and an hourglass icon under an image. Once you place your mouse over it, the image enlarges). Amazon has been using an Ajax rollover in the upper tab of the navigation bar for more than a year now. Google is probably the king of using a lot of Ajax on many Google services.
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