but don't forget the tortoises
The world is impatient, especially on the Internet where there is so much information to wade through. It is imperative that your visitors can get straight to what they need as fast as possible. Any delay in finding what they are looking for, and there is a great chance that they will click away from your site and go to the next on the list.
One of the major flaws in the web design business is the assumption that all the people who will be looking at a client's site are going to be on super-high-speed connections. Many people are not.
According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), in 2010 almost 2/3 of the U.S. population are online, and 1/3 of those have high speed connections.
Bearing this in mind, if a web site is designed with content aimed at a high-speed visitor, whether deliberately or simply by lack of experience, this site is immediately running the risk of alienating 2/3 of its potential viewers.
Also, this is only U.S. visitors. If you are a business that can deal or sell worldwide, the percentage increases dramatically, as most of the rest of the world still connects via 56k modem or other much slower means, such as satellite or even cellphone.
What can you do to prevent pushing these potential clients away?
Consider them when you are having your site designed. There are two approaches that can be taken when designing a site. Both are equally valid depending on the type of business and site.
One way is to design for the 'lowest common denominator.' This is where you aim the entire site at the viewer with the slowest connection, the smallest screen resolution, etc., and design the site accordingly.
This means imposing several restrictions, most notably on the use of graphics, and elements such as video, Flash, etc., as these take the longest times to load.
By creating a site with minimal graphics and little or no Flash, you can have pages that load very fast, even on slow dial-up connections. This method is most desirable for informative or instructional sites, but would not help, for example, if the business is a visual media, such as videography or multimedia.
If the client needs to rely heavily on graphics because of the items they produce or sell, then there is a second option, which is the preferred method we use.
When a visitor enters one of our sites, our system detects almost everything about their computer system and internet connection.
If the visitor has a slow connection or has a lower screen resolution, our sites automatically show alternate items designed for a lower 'bandwidth.'
For example, if we created a large Flash header on the site, rather than waste 90 seconds loading this at 56k, a lower resolution static image would appear in its place.
The same applies if visitors do not have Flash installed at all. They will still see a nice, fast-loading site, and therefore are more likely to stay around and see what you offer.
If you are ready to grow your business, now is the perfect time to consider our WebUpdate systems, which employ advanced marketing, promotion and security features designed to give businesses the best competitive edge online.
Terry Young is the founder and CEO of Internet Marketing and Design,
the award winning web and multimedia design agency in Chesapeake.
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