The man who demystified the webpage

Jesse James Garrett

Jesse James Garrett  

Deepa Kurup

BANGALORE: An interview becomes a lot easier when the interviewee also happens to be an ex-journalist. Jesse James Garrett is among the first persons who put the user and his needs and preferences above that of the designer and simplified the World Wide Web.

Besides having pioneered AJAX which set the standard for user adaptability and design, Mr. Garrett is committed towards making technology more accessible and ensuring that people are not “scared” of computers, websites or even mobiles for that matter. So, what does AJAX mean? Mr. Garrett laughs as he explains that it’s just a term for his approach for a dynamic experience. “When I started, it was about the Internet. The challenge is to violate expectations that users may have about website behaviour and give them what works easiest and fastest,” he says in an interview on the sidelines of the Developer’s Summit held in Bangalore recently.

His work, be it on mobile interfaces given the burgeoning mobile market or websites, relies on research and analytical tools to find out what the user wants and then caters to specific needs. Having participated at the summit, he feels that there is no dearth of talent here. “The work happening in India is taken very seriously back home. Though some people see it as a negative thing, I think it’s only going to get better,” he says.

. And what does a self-made man like him think about the Free Software movement? “Tell me if my metaphor makes sense,” he says, as he proceeds to compare it to a large ball atop a hill which needs an initial push before it gathers momentum. “I think the movement is coming of age and is extremely important. Based on sharing of ideas, it is integral to any innovation and growth,” he explains animatedly.

Besides a passion for technology, what is it that made him want to walk down this road? “I always thought that things were too complex and that the user came last on the developer’s priority list,” he says. Having started out as a journalist reporting for a news website, Mr. Garrett found it frustrating when technicalities stopped people from navigating freely on the site. “I mostly learned on the job. From coding to conceptualising I learnt to think like a techie but wanted to put the user first,” he says.

Mr. Garrett becomes a bit introspective when asked about what took him from journalism to a purely technical venture. “It’s essentially the same thing,” he says. He says that every piece of technology contains an idea about the world and about values in the larger sense.

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