As someone who just spent three months on dial-up because that's all that was available where I was living, I weep at this attitude!
I target dial ups with the comforting knowledge that the site will be super fast on broadband.
Don't forget the majority of worldwide users are still on dial up.
Living in rural canada I will not likely see Broadband for many years, yet I am only 70 miles from our largest city, Toronto.
Dialup is neither dead nor even dying for the general public.
> I'm betting the majority of my users (I cater to users regionally in US) now have access to broadband.
Yes, and you are betting your profits too -- or your popularity if you're a non-profit. I'd advise you to write a script to process your log files and look at the total page-load time for each of your pages. You can probably derive a cut-off time over which you can assume your visitor is on dial-up. Then, do the numbers. If you still have a significant number of dial-up visitors, but feel strongly about the "enriched broadband experience", then consider designing some optional "low-graphics" pages for dial-up users.
Our job as webmasters is not to dictate terms or "push" technology. It is to provide our visitors/customers with what they want and what they need. If we don't, they go elsewhere -- along with their money and their goodwill.
I live out in the country - our ISDN line is over $150/month at 128K and that's about the best we can get... Actually we just added a second ISDN to double our speed, but more $$$ I doubt anyone else out here has a setup like that, but then again, we hardly constitute a major population base either.
No plans to make DSL or cable available. I guess we might be able to get satelite, but I don't know. No cell phone service either. My god, it's like being stuck back in the 1900s.
<<then consider designing some optional "low-graphics" pages for dial-up users. >>
I'd say do it the other way around ... make the "low-graphics" (or low java-applet or whatever) pages the first offering and make the so-called "richer web experience" optional.
|Nearly six of 10 American homes have Internet access, with more than one-fifth of them making that link through broadband connections |
Humm, let's see, 60% of American households have internet access. 20% of American housholds have broadband. Simple math says that there are twice as many dialup connections as broadband connections; and this is in the US. I am sure the ratio of dialup to broadband is much higher outside the US. I'd say that dialup is alive and well.
>>richer web experience
'Scuse me, does pushing more bandwidth at the user guarantee a richer user experience? I just don't see it.
Want more sales? Writer better copy. Want more inbound links? Write better copy. Want time-on-site to increase? Write better copy. If your "rich web experience" doesn't include good copy, I'm outta there. And guess what? Text loads fast, people expect to see black text on white pages...
Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Nielsenite, I like sharp websites. I enjoy clean, crisp graphics. DOes it make sense though to crank page sizes up without even considering if there is a reason beyond adding eye-candy? What if you could create a richer web experience simply by hiring a professional copywriter?
A quick search brought up stats suggesting that in January of 2003 only 33.8% of the US online population had broadband.
I spent 6 years on a beautiful rural property with a dial-up that could only manage 44k on a good day. Extremely frustrating. I was about 10 miles from a fiber optic line, and less than 20 from where a major trans-pacific trunk line came ashore, but high speed was "just out of reach." (Literally!)
Fast downloads on slow lines are a good thing! I learned early on too hold my breath while my pages loaded. If I got uncomfortable I knew I was losing visitors.
It's not clearcut - the question is not "Is dial-up dead?", it is "Is dial-up dead in my target market?"
If you're targeting IT professionals and only in the UK then dial-up is [probably] as good as dead.
If you're targeting senior citizens in rural America then dial-up is certainly not dead!
I believe that would be 20% of 60%,
1 in 5 home internet connections are on broadband.
12% of the population at large. So, 4 times as
many on dialup as on broadband.
To those that are sticking to designing for
dialup, remember that your sites on broadband
will still SCREAM compared to sites designed
for broadband. A common mistake is senior execs
signing off on development sites that they have
reviewed by connecting over the corporate lan.
You'll eat their lunch.
And sometimes, their profits :)
Oh yes, I'm afraid you will. That was a cardinal mistake.
Do you have a backup of the old site? Can you revert easily?
The direction that you are taking is one that I have seen more of recently. I am fortunate to live where broadband has made good penetration. That said only 1 in six officemates have broadband.
I concede that there is some information that should only be served to a broadband market. But the key to that it is the content that drives the delivery.
makes me already look for where you have hidden the “SKIP INTRO” Button.
|thus providing my users with a richer web experience |
I'm going to jump all over you as well.
Dialup is not dead, and in the event of broadband down time, it's the trusty 56K modem which keeps the lifeline going.
At my office I have T1 lines, but I hook my laptop to the modem through an analog to see what the majority of my users will see.
I have a exceptionally fast cable modem connection at home.
Right now, I'm on the road and stuck at 56k (erm, 43k actually).
I was just setting here planning how to rework WebmasterWorld to make it faster for the 56k'ers.
OK, this time I am so happy I am doing better than Brett: on the road, and connected at 48K.
So, why should we optimize for broadband? I would very much care about better content, which doesn't usually require fast connections and gives a lot in return.
Brett, WW is still great even at this speed.
|I was just setting here planning how to rework WebmasterWorld to make it faster for the 56k'ers. |
Well you can never have it too fast, but personally I would rather see you working on getting the BBS up and launched.
I happen to be fortunate enough to have hi-speed internet at work and DSL at home. Worst-case scenario, I have 640Kb/s downstream and I still prefer sites optimized for dial-up. Why? Because with few exceptions, most of the broadband-optimized sites I encounter routinely fail to utilize the extra bandwidth with worthwhile content. Instead I usually get 28.8 Kb/s worth of content, and 600+ Kb/s worth of filler.
Do your clients a favor and optimize the sites you build around the content they need to deliver. Anything above and beyond that is wasted bandwidth. For me, a "richer web experience" can be found on sites with good content that is easy to find. Flash intros, animated menus and large graphics are not part of that richer web experience.
Now that everyone has reiterated to death how big a mistake this is and how terrible an idea it is to leave 2/3rds of internet users with a crappy load time, has anyone actually optimized a site for broadband?
Besides being stoned here, how has it worked out?
I can see several types of sites where you would ignore dialups:
- gaming sites (detailed ones, not puzzle sites)
- corporate conferencing services (voice and video)
- sites targeting university students in dorms
- a regional site where broadband is well entrenched (Korea, SF)
The internet is big enough to support all types of formats and design styles. Yes if the site that launched a thousand tirades was a simple store selling dvd's to the masses then optimizing for broadband is wrong (unless you know streaming high quality previews quadruples your conversion), but isn't the idea of the internet that there are niches out there for everyone?
I understand the need for universal accessibility, but not all sites are for all people. Besides if you are duking it out in a crowded space, why not pull back say I can do better serving one segment than trying to be all things to all people.
I would say if you're targeting a specific people group who has highspeed access, that' fine.
However, I can't think of very much high bandwidth content that is actually valuable. Usually it means they crammed more flash or sound or large, distracting graphics. Even on a cable modem it's annoying.
Besides, if you make it bearable on dialup, it becomes blazingly fast on a higspeed connection.
>> write my sites tailored to broadband users
How exactly were you planning to do that? I'd like to hear some thoughts and ideas ;)
Personally i've been on bb for around six-seven years or so (in the beginning only at work) and i've seen a lot of attempts, the most well-thought-out one being the original heavy.com (it wasn't like it is now). One general fault with the bad bb attempts i've seen is that they failed to recognize that PC upgrades didn't follow connection speed upgrades, so they had all kinds of stuff that would put the PC to the test even though it made it through the pipes and the result would end up just as bad as without bb, only faster fetched.
|Our job as webmasters is not to dictate terms or "push" technology. |
I have to disagree with that statement to a certain extent. Yes, it is part of our responsibilities to "push" or better yet inform the end user about new technologies that would make their internet experiance better. Of course, you have to be careful of which technologies you choose to gently nudge them into. It should be something that is easily controlled by the end user at little to know costs to them.
And then you have places like my mostly rural state where 50% of the population can't get cable - unless you consider dish access viable - which I don't. Not here anyway. Nor in New Hampshire, Maine or the entire northern half of New York I suspect.
Keep the pages slim and trim.
I quite happy I came to this one late... Go on. Optimise for broadband. I can only hope that you're in one of the same business areas as me - one less competitor to worry about is always welcome.
I started this topic and have appreciated reading the responses, most which are overwhelming against targeting broadband at the expense of dial-ups.
In this case, I liken the Internet to a parade. We're all marching along trying to stay in step with each other, yet stand out in our respective areas. Because of my catagory of web sites, I am near the the front of the parade and it is making a right turn. Your time will come when you march to the corner; what will you do? My bet is you too will follow the parade route.
I'm not talking about loading up a web page with flashy eye candy, rather content. At one time, 640x480 and dialup went hand in hand. But monitor real estate is increasing; broadband is overkill unless we write for it.
OK, some have asked, what kind of web sites are at the front of this parade? Sites that rely on images for one. Except for one, my few sites are funded via physical events. An example is a sporting club requiring 20% content for future events, 80% a recorded history of past events. Users relive the event long after the fact via the web site. The closest to ecommerce I'm associated with is a real estate site for a client. I have been keeping it reasonable for the dialup community almost against the wishes of my client. Admit it ... a real estate site optimized for broadband should make for a smoother sales pitch than keeping pages small for dial-up users. Grabbing one's emotions becomes easier with broadband. All my sites serve a regional multi-state area in US. Broadband is there - I have the luxury of letting the user decided if my sites will be worth it. Income is not generated from the web site. Income is generated from the users to be, if you will, included on the web sites.
Your turn is coming whether you like it or not. Innoviation, technology, increasing broadband user base ... all going against the dial-ups. E-commerce will follow the money ... and the money will be following broadband.
|We're all marching along trying to stay in step with each other |
I think this is where you've got it wrong. I think most people are trying to stay in step with the general (buying) public. I don't care what other webmasters think about my sites - I care what the people who buy my (and my client's) products think.
|In this case, I liken the Internet to a parade. We're all marching along trying to stay in step with each other, yet stand out in our respective areas. Because of my catagory of web sites, I am near the the front of the parade and it is making a right turn. Your time will come when you march to the corner; what will you do? My bet is you too will follow the parade route. |
The thing is, you are making a right turn while the rest of the parade is marking striate ahead.
|At one time, 640x480 and dialup went hand in hand. But monitor real estate is increasing; broadband is overkill unless we write for it. |
It was still recommended to design for 640x480 long after 800x600 became popular and 1024x768 after that. Now the idea is to have a fluid design that will stand up to any screen resolution, since screen resolutions is one of the last things we can control.
Now apply that to bandwidth. Like the screen resolution, you can't control the bandwidth of the end user. And in many cases, he or she can't control it either. The only thing you can control is the amount of data you try to shove down the pipeline, so it stands to reason that you should only shove in no more then what is needed.
|Your turn is coming whether you like it or not. Innoviation, technology, increasing broadband user base ... all going against the dial-ups. |
You know, the arrogance of broadband is one of my biggest internet pet peeves. Even if the most generous statistics are true, broadband is still on the margins. Yet, broadband users feel the internet must cater to their high-speed connections, dial-ups be damned.
|Sites that rely on images for one |
And haunted by spiders ;)
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