Flaming Geeks

Rant - Surfing for the Elite
By J. Andrews

NOTE: This page is best viewed in Opera 3.60 running on Windows 98 with a Shamrock monitor on an IBM desktop. Please only view this page between the hours of 2:13 and 3:07 am on a Wednesday in a month beginning with the letter J. This site is optimized for viewing under the light of a full moon and is contra-indicated for werewolves. Download Wolvesbane 2.4 NOW.

I know you've seen messages like the above. You may even have written a message like the above. Well, I urge you to please stop. If I can't see the page or successfully navigate it in my browser, then I'll just assume that you've coded it for the masses, ie. IE or Netscape. You don't need to tell me in five-foot high letters in three different places and ten different languages. I'll figure it out all on my own, honest!

Now what I really want to know is why online stores are coding this way. I'm not going to go back to a site that I can't navigate or find highly annoying to get around on. You're losing clients, guys. You're losing those people who can't use your specified browser. You're losing people whose computer can't handle all the fancy plugins. You're losing disabled people such as the vision impaired whose software can't make heads or tails of your site. And in some cases, you're losing people who use laptops!

Now I've gotten pretty good at finding my way around plugins that don't work, javascript that acts funny, twenty gazillion images that my 33.6 can't load, and html that's just wrong. But I will only resort to such measures if I'm motivated. Having several elitest features to your site is going to de-motivate me.

I'm not even talking style, readability, proper grammar, I'm just referring to the bells and whistles. The funky coding that only works in one version of one browser. The sites that are impossible to get to in Lynx. The sites coded with elitest snobbery that refuses to acknowledge the multitude of browsers, CPUs, monitors, and modems being used by web surfers.

The tracking service we're using claims most of our visitors are using Netscape or IE. Great for those of you that are, but I happen to know for a fact that that tracking service isn't taking into account Opera or Lynx users. Why? Because it was coded with the same elitest snobbery that I've been talking about.

For more on Opera, please visit the Opera website. I'm sure you all can find your way to the Netscape or IE pages on your own.

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This page copyrighted July 16, 2000 to J. Andrews