Winter Will Be Here Soon -- Study hard as finals approach...


 
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Text Only Web Browsers

 

Text-only versions of web sites are crucial, if you have information on
your site that you deem important. I feel that most webmasters make a
terrible mistake when they assume every web browsing environment is the
same as theirs. Certainly, you can try to test out many web browsing
environments, such as IE and Netscape on PCs and Macintoshes, however
there are countless other environments one could never test within limited
time. 

There are many new web browsers entering the market, and gaining
popularity, such as "Opera," which has a very different "look and feel" in
web browsing, and also interprets sites in very different ways than
Netscape or IE.

On the other hand, there are countless users of legacy systems, who have
no access to graphically based web browsers. Lynx is text-only browser
which is still under development. Newer versions are being released, 
therefore there are many users who still rely on this browser. For many
UNIX platform users, more than half of the system software they need are
only available on the web. In the unfortunate case that their computers
crash, and they need to recover important system software, the only base
web browser they can use is Lynx (it comes standard with the operating
system, and requires minimal system resources).

Other important topics within the realm of hardware include: system
resources. Many web surfers do not have the newest technology. They may
have slower than 14.4 kBPS connections, 8 MEGS of RAM (or less), and
processor speeds well under 100 MHz. However, designers of web sites
often have technology well beyond the above mentioned minimum. Therefore,
a graphically intense site will take 10 minutes or more to display! The
average user would halt the transfer before waiting this long. A VERY
common compromise for these users is to change the settings of their
browser to NOT download images. If your opening site has only a bitmapped
image (which is currently very popular), then you have excluded a large
percentage of your visitors.

In the corporate race for the "most popular web browser" title, Netscape
and Microsoft release new HTML abilities in attempt to mutually obsolete
eachother. One example is the ability for IE to interpret background
graphics within tables, while Netscape can currently only interpret
colored backgrounds in tables (not graphics). Because of this current
corporate culture, we will not see a commonly enforced standard on web
site design in the near future. For web designers who expect income from
their sites, it is in their best interest to not exclude any potential
visitors. Therefore, the only common denominator to expect in web design
is the text only site.

Successful webmasters are smart to consider a wide range of potential
visitors to their sites. Any design that could potentially exclude
visitors is usually a bad design. The best compromise is to have a
text-only version of every page on your site.

 




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