Is Your Web Site Costing You Sales?

Is Your Website Costing You Sales?

by Steve MacLellan

I was looking through some newsgroups in the USENET a little while ago and I saw this ad that was looking for a web developer.

WANTED: Our company is looking for a web developer to design our company website with Frontpage. Must be comfortable working with Javascript, Flash, DHTML, Animation, and Java.

This is fine. They want it to look good on their computer. I doubt if this type of website is going to make them much money though. Let’s break this down into different sections to see how this would work.

Of the 700 or so browsers and versions of browsers being used to surf the web today, some of them support javascript. For security reasons, unfounded or not, many surf with Javascript turned off. The most popular browsers, Netscape and Microsoft Internet Explorer, each one since version 2.0 of Netscape, has supported Javascript differently. This means what will work in one, will not necessarily work in both. If you are relying on information included in your Javascript to help sell your products or navigate your site, depending on what version of Javascript you use, you have just reduced your potential customers to about one-third of the Internet.

Although great for animation and special effects, typical small file sizes can easily exceed 1 megabyte. The download of the Shockwave plugin, and waiting for the file to load means a potential customer may have to wait between 10 minutes to an hour to see your information. Oh, yes. I know many people who are still using the 14.4K modem. Chances are they will not stick around to view your information. Even if they were successful at the download, there is a good chance that this will use up all of their system resources and crash their computer.

This is based on the fusion of Javascript and Cascading Stylesheets interacting with the Document Object Model (DOM). The popular browsers support different levels of Javascript, different variations in their support for (CCS) stylesheets, and maintain different standards for the Document Object Models. If your sales information relies on the user’s browser to interpret DHTML, you may only have 1-2 of the 700 browsers able to view your information.

Not only do animated .gif images distract your reader from your sales copy, they also create longer download times and reduce resources on your reader’s computer. They are very annoying, so if you feel you have to use them, be careful how you use them.

Once again, only a handful of browsers support Java, and many of these users elect to have it turned off. Early editions of Windows 95 had a memory leak and memory allotted to display Java on web pages could not be recaptured without re-setting the computer. Others feel Java presents a potential security hazard, and refuse to enable it.

When I think of successful models of business sites on the web, it brings to mind images of Yahoo and Before you build or have your website built, you should visit these sites and see just how much of these technologies are being used by them. The onus is on you to be knowledgeable about problems that could affect your profit potential on the Web.

Steve MacLellan’s business, Dog Byte Enterprises, caters to small businesses and web development for positive results.