I was at South By SouthWest (SXSW) last month in Austin. It was originally just a music festival, but later added film and interactive media. One of the sessions I attended was AJAX & Flash Mistakes at Slideshare.

I really like slideshare.net. For those of you not in the know, Slideshare is a community driven site that lets you upload presentations. The slides themselves get converted to Flash, but all the text is indexed so that you can search for other people’s presentation. There are tons of presentations that have been shared, many which are really good. So when I saw they were presenting, I wanted to hear what they had to say. Here are my key takeaways.

  • Don’t keep users waiting. Give them something else to do while they wait.
  • Don’t compromise User Experience (UX) for performance
  • Don’t surprise people – with unexpected popus or inserted DIVs.
  • Have a direct path to assets. Too many AJAX websites don’t let users get to certain things directl

One thing they did which was not optimal was that they fetched comments dynamically which was costing the bandwidth an extra hit. However they noticed that most of the slides didn’t have comments, so it was a wasted hit.

Most interaction designers are so concerned with making it easy for the user to accomplish a task that they forget about what happens after. What happens next?

Keep users in the zone

The user just uploaded their first slide and now they’ve got nothing to do. You have to keep the user on the side. You have to keep them engaged after they’ve given you what you want. Slideshare kept users engaged by showing them tips and providing them ways to share the slide with their friends.

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