Thursday, May 29, 2008

Automatic page refreshes are so 1998

Dear, MNspeak, and the internet at large, I don't know if you are aware, but automatically refreshing the web page I'm reading is extraordinarily annoying and completely unnecessary. There was once a time many years ago where automatically refreshing a news site or any number of other types of pages was useful. These days, however, I believe it actually drags down your reader's experience on your site. If I want to see the latest version of your page, I will click the Reload button in my web browser, thank you very much. I do not care to be in the middle of reading something then have the page suddenly reload itself. Now I have to hunt down what I was reading and pick up where I left off, assuming the item I was reading wasn't old enough to be archived off of the front page. And God forbid it's a longer item, and I have to go through this process multiple times before I finish.

To eliminate any confusion, the type of page refresh I'm talking about includes those in <meta ...> tags and javascript setTimeout() and setInterval() calls that unceremoniously reload the entire page you are viewing. Why in this day and age of RSS, AJAX, Flash, and hell, even iframes would you still use auto-refreshes? I will concede that there might continued value for mobile versions of websites where timely delivery of information is key (think live sports scores and stock prices), as there are still a great number of mobile devices that do not support Flash (iPhone anyone?). But taking away a reader's choice in the age of Web 2.0 and ubiquitous connectivity tells me that you just don't get it.