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Home : Articles : Technology or Compatibility

Technology or Compatibility

One of the most difficult things when creating a web site is choosing whether to use technology or compatibility, but most people totally forget about it. What I mean by technology or compatibility is do you create a site using all the latest technologies and 'eye candy' that only users with Pentium III computers and the latest version of Internet Explorer or do you make one that users with 386 computers running Netscape Navigator 1.1 can use as well.

There are always new technologies on the web which are being overused. Only a few months ago frames were what every site should have. They looked good and made updating your site easy. It soon turned out that they were not as good as they seemed and now very few sites use them.

Many (usually personal) sites use a lot of the latest technologies, trying to look good. They have Java Applets to show the time, popup boxes asking for your name so that they can put it on the page when you view it, menus that make sounds when you move your mouse over them and many more. Do these really benefit the sites? They are very useful technologies and, when used correctly, they can make a site look really good but mostly they are just used because they are available.

All these little pieces of 'eye candy' also ruin the site for users with old browsers and slow modems. If you create a whole navigation system in Java and someone visits who can't run it, they can't look at your site. If you create a huge JavaScript and the person's browser won't run it, they have wasted a long time while the code was downloaded.

A badly designed site will not work at all on some people's computers, and it is stupid really! Why lose all these visitors just so that you can show off what applets you can copy from another site? Some people argue that so few people have old browsers and computers with slow connections that the number of people is not important. It is much better to show how good you are at creating a web site with the latest technologies.

This attitude is completely wrong, though. A good web designer will make a site which looks good on all computers, no matter how old they are. I am not trying to say that new technology is bad and that it shouldn't be used but before you add that next Java Applet, think to yourself "Do I really need this? Will this make my site any better?" and the most important question "Do my visitors want it?".

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