The Web Design

	Group presents:

"This page optimized for ..."
- arguing with customers -


Examples of "optimized" sites

There are two kinds of examples:

There are examples of sites that provide useful information, but this information is not as accessible as it could be. To each of those sites, I have sent E-mail messages stating the problems I see. This is not a "Netscape hall of shame" or something like that. It is a list of sites that I wish had used proper techniques to produce customer delight, because I as a customer would like to be delighted.

There are also examples in here of sites that really need to demand a certain browser characteristic to provide their information. This is no extensive list. It is only a list of examples that I use to prove my point.

There are no examples in here that demand a special browser in order to be "cool" without the information requiring it. I.e., there are no typical "Netscape hall of shame" entries here.

A site that said "best viewed with Netscape".

With some simple changes, it could become a wonderful site for all graphical browsers, even if image-loading was off, and even for lynx. These changes are to include ALT-attributes and to provide decent link and background colours, and some minor other things on some pages. This site provides real, interesting information. It is http://www.earlyamerica.com/. I do not know whether they now use ALT attributes. If they do, feel free to view it with lynx, the information is worth it (Imagine: I even enabled image loading for it!), and there is no reason to exclude lynx users from it. You will miss out the audio if you lack the appropriate software.

A site that said "best viewed with Netscape and 800x600".

This warning was the first thing that rendered of the page. The site used blue for normal text and dark grey for links. On a light grey background. Thank god I have 256 colours, because on a 16 colour screen I would not have been able to read the text. That would have been a pity, because it was a good laugh. This site was designed by so-called "professionals". That was a good laugh, too. From my point of view, it was best viewed with "lynx -dump > /dev/null", but that's just my personal opinion. By now, they claim to be in a "beta period", which is ridiculous for a site that uses no CGI. That is like saying "this novel is still in beta period". If this means "still under construction", the whole web is in beta period. Well, maybe you will like to visit http://www.eisenbahn.com/. I like the content of the site, but I did not find it, only some text what the content ought to be. Maybe it is not yet there? To be honest, I hope this site stays like it was when I first visited it, because it is such a wonderful example.

A page that requires Java for good reasons

This page does not bear a big red warning message "you need Java to view this page". It only does so if your browser does not have Java support. This is an interactive city plan. It is real useful information, and it can not be provided in HTML in a proper fashion. Though it could be provided using image maps, the performance of this would be too bad for it to be usable. It is at http://www.koeln.org/mapview/

Conclusion

OK, if you are not convinced yet: Imagine that I am your customer. I have half an hour of time, and I plan on visiting your site during that. I won't tell you which browser I use and what the preferences are. Are you going to welcome me in a pleasant manner, or are you going to tell me that I am not cool enough to be your customer? Also, I have only 20 $ left. I can spend them on phone and online costs, or I can spend them on your products. Which alternative do you prefer?

Even if you don't need me as a customer: If your Internet presence convinces me of the advantages of your product, I might recommend it to others - but I need to have information for that. I won't recommend your product because your web site looked so nice. Not even if your product is a software for creating websites.

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This article was written by Jahn Rentmeister (rentmei@uni-muenster.de)
If you find any errors or omissions please contact him personally.


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