Over the last two years, Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) have been a hot topic of discussion. While the sheen has already begun to wear off the buzzword Ajax a bit among Web application designers, RIAs are bigger than ever with our clients and their customers. Everyone seems to love slider-based filtering, drag and drop, fisheye menus, and auto-completion for input fields.

One of the most exciting aspects of Ajax is the single-page user interface, in which all interactions with a Web application take place on one page. Only relevant controls and information appear on the page; those that a user does not currently need are hidden. As necessary, an application can readily display new information or functionality by partially refreshing the page. Highly interactive features like real-time error feedback, inline editing, within-page calculations, and filtering and sorting of tables are similar to those you’d find in desktop applications. Single-page user interfaces allow users to work in an intuitive, non-linear way.

Traditional, multi-page Web application design works well for simple, linear user workflows, but single-page user interfaces support complex, non-linear user workflows much more effectively. To demonstrate this, I will use the example of a travel booking Web application.

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