Make sure you don't lose your visitors

Often, one of the earliest discussions I have with clients is on keeping site 'bells and whistles' within reasonable limits. Failure to keep balance can increase loading times and lose potential business. In the Hampton Roads area we are spoiled with Internet connection speed thanks to companies like Cox and Verizon Fios, which keep our internet blazing fast.

Because of this availability, it is easy to get carried away and think that everyone in the world sees your site the same way.

One of the biggest mistakes in the web design world is to overlook the simple fact that in more rural areas, such as North Carolina and only a few miles west of I-64, a large number of your prospective visitors probably still rely on either good old fashioned dial-up or a slower DSL or satellite connection.

When commissioning a web site, these lowest common denominator items such as connection speeds, screen resolutions, and bells and whistles, which affect your page loading times, must be of primary consideration if your site has a chance of reaching its full visitor potential.

Your business type often also plays a major part in this decision. If, for example, you are selling tractor parts, there is a strong possibility that your visitors will be from rural areas. If your site relied on intensive things like Flash animations, videos, JQuery or Javascript slideshows and effects, it would probably take so long to load that slower visitors would just leave rather than wait a few minutes for each page to load.

Just as a poorly designed and coded site can cause you to lose potential customers, a site that tries to be too cutting-edge can also push people away. Even on a high speed connection there are sites I visit that have so much going on that they can crash some browsers completely, especially older browsers on older computers.

It is also easy to overlook that many people still use Windows XP and that XP cannot install the newer Internet Explorer browsers needed to see the more complex elements.

When developing a site, we prevent these issues from ever becoming a problem. It is our standard practice to code the pages to detect the visitor's browser and speed, and use that information to decide which elements to load or not load.

Our WebUpdate sites detect as much as possible about the site visitor and change the page content based on their particular setup. If someone looks at a page with a Flash video but their browser does not support Flash, our sites will show them a Quicktime version instead, rather than a missing plugin box.

If you do not have such a site, it is advisable to ask as many friends as possible, especially those on slower connections, to look at the your site and time how long pages take to load. This is especially important if you have animations, videos or slide shows on a page. Have them also confirm that everything loads correctly and looks okay.

If your site does not have a specially formatted mobile version as our sites do, you should also check it out on as many Smartphones as you can. Flash animations or video will not be visible on an Apple device; it will also be 50/50 on Android devices depending on OS version.

You can also check loading speeds for yourself using a free dial up connection. NetZero still offers 10 hours of free dialup access a month, which is more than enough for testing. Ideally your site should completely load within 45 seconds to be sure of keeping slower but valuable visitors.

Online, your site is one among thousands of others offering the same products or services. Believe it or not, you can look your best without breaking the bank.

If you have concerns with your web presence, now is the perfect time to look into our WebUpdate system sites, which take advantage of advanced marketing, SEO and promotion features to give your business the best competitive edge online.

What our clients are saying ...

Bob Fino - Owner Fun Inflatables

Starting any new venture, you want to be sure you do it with the right people. After researching web companies I was lead to Terry Young at Internet Marketing and Design. After our first meeting, I was convinced he was the person I wanted to team up with to build our new web site.

Working with Terry has been very easy, educational and a great value. His communication and knowledge of a successful web site are excellent. I feel very comfortable and pleased with the decision I made on going with Internet Marketing and Design for building the Fun Inflatables web site.

- Bob Fino, Owner

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