Sad but true, I remember dial-up. In those days people were annoyed if a page took more than a minute to download and pop-pups where one of the most oft complained about 'features' of web design.

You know, while pop up were annoying and did consume bandwidth there are two current popular design trends I just don't get; both, quite often, rely on ajax.

One is the 'lightbox' pop-up. Why is it any better to have an add display DIRECTLY on to of the content you want to see? Hunting for the "close" button.. is no fun either... BAD. It makes wish for the old pop up days. at least they were clearly marked and easy to close. Also, because many of hese are dynamically generated via AJAX, they cause page delays for even well coded pages.

Speaking of which...

It's general knowledge that one tries to serve only the data the user is requesting in order to conserve bandwidth. Thus, We have techniques like 'thumb-nailing' ( am including text blurbs /intros in this as well) When you think about it may seem counter intuitive at first.. serve a BUNCH of scaled down content so that the user can select the one he/she actually wants to load. I am probably doing a horrible job of describing this, but hopefully you have the image ( pun) of what I am trying to convey.

Another big thing was to reduce clicks and scrolls.

Now put this all together.. and here is the new trend I was trying to mention: using AJAX to load 'everything'.

That thumbnail gallery.. is now based on a script, so are all the "article previews" and when you scroll down .. another script loads more of the content.

If you go by what clients are requesting these days.. this is the way web ought to be? I really dislike this.Navigating through a site that functions this way seems slower to me ( this may be an illusion.. but 'feeling' is part of the UX). It also seems risky (in the case of ads for example) to depend on another external server before the actually user content is displayed.

And finally, there is the fact it it makes the page JS dependent... I thought we were trying to avoid that in the first place. But I have stumbled onto a few sites that are "essentially' blank DIVs and a script. I dunno, but I like being able to 'view source'... and find the same content there as what is displayed.

So I was wondering what are the forum expert's take on these trends? Do you favour or advice AJAX for loading content ( as opposed to a 'next page' link) or avoid it like the plague?