I’ve been experiencing a problem lately. I have started to redesign some functionality of one of my websites. Long time overdue, but that’s another issue all together. As part of this overhaul I decided to look at how to improve the user’s experience on the website.
One of the problems I’ve encountered is the fact that AJAX can make a website a lot more user friendly. An easy example is when you display a snippet of a text. If the user then clicks on the ‘read more’ link a new layer will be placed on top of the existing one with the full text in it.
I believe that this helps in usability as it makes clear what the full text belongs to, and probably more important what the context is. The big down size of this type of development is that search engines don’t like it.
Faced with the choice between enhanced usability and features or pleasing the search engine I think I have to choose for the first of the two. I do believe search engines will play a big role in a websites success. But I don’t believe we developers should sacrifice features for increased rankings in search engines. Visitors should still come first!