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Using Ajax Shelf to Help Users Find Pages on Suncoast Site

by Tom Johnson on Jan 29, 2007 •
categories: technical-writing wordpress

I've been experimenting with an "Ajax shelf" to help users find pages better on the Suncoast chapter site. The Ajax shelf is like a web component that slides up and down when you click a button. I think it's pretty cool. Here's an example:

Shelf is hidden:

ajax shelf hidden

When the user clicks the View Pages link, the shelf expands:

ajax shelf expanded

When the shelf expands, it has the effect of sliding down. When you click the View Pages link again, the shelf slides back up.

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I've decided to store all my pages on the Ajax shelf. Because I'm using the Suncoast chapter site as a little CMS, I'm hoping that this way of organizing the pages will make it easier for users to find information.

I'm still tweaking the Suncoast site, but what do you think of the Ajax shelf part?

The theme I am using has the Ajax shelf functionality, but you can apparently add a shelf to your blog manually by following this tutorial. (I haven't tried the tutorial.)

Ajax, by the way, is just javascript, and stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. Keith Hoffman wrote more about Ajax in his Intercom article on Web 2.0. Hoffman mostly talks about the collaboration functionality that AJAX provides with online word processing programs. He says Ajax allows multiple authors to simultaneously work on a document and have each person's changes saved instantaneously. So Ajax has many different applications — the shelf is just one.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer / API doc specialist based in the Seattle area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation if you're looking for more info about that. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me. Finally, note that the opinions I express on my blog are my own points of view, not that of my employer.