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Web site usability

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  #11  
Old 08-26-2002, 05:37 PM
Mike Needham's Avatar
Mike Needham Mike Needham is offline
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I too realise the importance of optimising graphics and providing rudimentry tools to accomodate a broad spectrum of users, yes alt tags are vital, but do you use them properly? are you aware that they now want you to provide a detailed description of the picture? that they are thinking of trying to enforce these new procedures? Am I going to comply?.......hmmmm.... are you?

If I designed every site to W3C standards then not only would I die a lonely and bitter old man, but I would also be 3 months down the line trying to iron out ridiculous flaws that only a handful of people will ever experience - with business sites this is as I stated still partly neccesary, but for personal sites, It is my right to exclude or include who I want to my website, I would dearly love Netscape 4 and Opera users to enter my Portfolio site and when they see sense and upgrade to a Compliant Browser they will be welcomed with open arms

Lets be honest, how many of the usablity rules do any of us cater for? Is your information as accessable to the blind as it is to the sighted? Do you use an alternative navigation in html for users who have no graphics? the list is endless. I refuse to be lambasted for using div tags if thats my choice, I want to use CSS and Java and xhmtl if people dont then there are sites that cater for that type of thing, but they are few and far between.

However when all is said and done, I dont want to shoot my mouth or my foot off too much the best sites are arguably the ones that do cater for the widest audience, A-list Apart and BBC Online are just two that spring to mind, they are a triumph of design and usability.

I am not trying to advocate lazy or uninviting websites, rather a 'designers' choice to implement the style they desire. I know my choices exclude some from my content, but its a tradeoff that I am willing to make in some part. If I created a site in Flash or Shockwave then I should be under no obligation to create an alternative in html for those who dont wish to install the 3rd party plugin.

I wish no offence to anyone out there and whilst my views are strident I hope that I have not upset anyone (not my wish) I look forward to being flooded with tuts and tssks


Oh and thanks for the points you all raise, ironically I dont really disagree
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  #12  
Old 08-27-2002, 01:15 AM
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BigAl BigAl is offline
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Quote:
If I created a site in Flash or Shockwave then I should be under no obligation to create an alternative in html for those who dont wish to install the 3rd party plugin.
Ah, but then what's the purpose of your site?

You would have lost one potential customer (me!! )
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  #13  
Old 08-27-2002, 01:46 AM
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chiquitita chiquitita is offline
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I think it is kind of simple. If you don't like it, don't go there.

I had someone complain recently that something wasn't displaying properly where he was using Linux/Opera or some combination like that with the JavaScript turned off. Well, when I look at my logs, he was among the LESS THAN 1% of Linux visitors to the site. People are always going to have their weird computer configurations, (i.e. adjusting the browser font size in Netscape) but that doesn't mean I have to design for that less than one percent. Maybe one day they will wake up and realize that they aren't seeing half of what the internet has to offer because they refuse to, or don't care to operate the same as the rest of us.

It is the same as a couple of people coming into the United States who speak some obscure ancient language, and insisting that we all learn to speak that language just so it would be more convenient for them. Absurd.
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  #14  
Old 08-27-2002, 02:56 AM
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G. Couch G. Couch is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by chiquitita

It is the same as a couple of people coming into the United States who speak some obscure ancient language, and insisting that we all learn to speak that language just so it would be more convenient for them. Absurd.
Latine loqui coactus sum!

All kidding aside...it sounds like the real issue should be to design for your audience. If the visitors to your site are a diverse group then you should design with that in mind.

It's easy to say that someone who, for example, uses a text only browser or a strange OS is "behind the times" and needs to catch up...but that is not always the case. I think that's more the attitude of somewhat spoiled Americans...I don't intend that to be derogatory, as I am one of those who is spoiled! We are used to 56k and faster connections along with "unlimited access". However, in many countries internet access is still charged by the minute or hour and in order to facilitate faster browsing, people will often turn off graphics or features like Flash or JavaScript.
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  #15  
Old 08-27-2002, 06:05 AM
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BigAl BigAl is offline
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Thanks for moral support, Greg

You're right though, even with the fat pipe that this university uses to connect to the world at large, it is sometimes very frustrating having to wait for unnecessary rubbish to download.
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  #16  
Old 08-27-2002, 06:38 AM
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I have a friend that had her jewelry web-site done by a professional. Nicely done but NONE of the images were optimized. My friend has a DSL line so everything looked fine to her. I'm on 56K dialup and I noticed right away that pages were taking a long time to load.

This is a good way to loose customers.

I'm now optimizing her images.
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  #17  
Old 08-27-2002, 08:51 PM
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chiquitita chiquitita is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by G. Couch


However, in many countries internet access is still charged by the minute or hour and in order to facilitate faster browsing, people will often turn off graphics or features like Flash or JavaScript.

The original post was speaking of member's sites, most of whom I think are in the US and Canada. I think most who have businesses are catering to people in these two countries and that is what I was referring to.
----

gland - If your friend's images weren't optimized, then it wasn't a professional who did the work. The word "professional" is thrown around alot these days by everyone when it comes to web design. Unfortunately, when you look at the pages, they are clearly not professional.
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  #18  
Old 08-28-2002, 06:09 AM
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Mike Needham Mike Needham is offline
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Its a difficult point and in some ways a fine line, between accessibility and usability. Graphics that havent been compressed, text that is given a fixed pixel size, these are examples of bad usability, sometimes these same things can also have an impact of accessibility.

One of the main reasons that I refuse to support older browsers is that they are not Standards compliant, they have no support for DOM or CSS, they are generally bereft of any redeeming features. Web designers have a torrid enough time testing in the compliant browsers (which still have a huge variation between what they will recognize), If I ignore the old browsers and concentrate on CSS and DHTML etc... I can ensure that disabled viewers can access my content, change it to suit their needs, I can also ensure that hand held palm tops and other devices (yes including text only browsers) can also access all my content.

If I dare make a corny analogy (of course I dare) Surfing the web without a compliant browser and standard equipment is like expecting shops to stock the latest Hollywood blockbuster on beta-max so that you can experience the movie too and then being mad when all you get is grey fuzz.

Laziness and bad design go hand in hand, not optimizing everything is just plain lazy, but do you also remember to optimize your code? I refute that it is laziness on my part not to provide a sub standard page for non compliant browsers.
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  #19  
Old 08-28-2002, 07:24 AM
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gland gland is offline
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Chiquitita I guess I did use the word "professional" rather loosely. The HTML was done well. Nice use of CSS-etc.

I just can't figure out why they didn't take a little time to optimize the images.

Gary
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  #20  
Old 08-28-2002, 03:59 PM
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Kevin Connery Kevin Connery is offline
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Quote:
Surfing the web without a compliant browser and standard equipment is like expecting shops to stock the latest Hollywood blockbuster on beta-max
It all comes back to keeping your audience in mind.

A few years ago, BMW (the car folks) created a very pretty site that made very heavy use of QuickTime movies (QTVR, I believe). Since their market was high-end car buyers, they knew their potential customers could afford new computers.

What they neglected to consider was that just because their customers COULD spend a few thousand dollars every year or two didn't mean that they chose to do so. And, at that time, many executives weren't using the net at work--they might not have a computer on their desk.

So they got a lot of people going TO the site, and a lot of people who couldn't SEE the cars. Sales had a [very] minor dip in the subsequent months, and the site was updated. Whether the sales dip was related or simply coincidental, I don't know, but...

Net-geeks often forget that most people aren't on broadband--just because it's relatively cheap doesn't make it a useful expense for many people. The same goes for 17" or larger screens, or high-resolution displays of any size, or multiple monitors, or...

Just because a potential customer CAN spend money or time on their computer (a 'free' browser download that take an hour to download and 3-5 hours to get working for the people who don't know the 'obvious' solutions is NOT free!) doesn't mean they will. The only time this is a truly safe bet is when you're selling software for the net--and the last time I checked, most retouchers were selling fixed images, not software.

Who is your customer? What is it safe to assume they own/use? What do they want from your site? Those are the key questions.

Last edited by Kevin Connery; 08-28-2002 at 04:23 PM.
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