Blog and Ideas
October 7, 2009
By Ramón López

The challenge of Web Compatibility

Everyone knows that having a website enables businesses to position themselves in the global marketplace. Online brands have expanded their numbers, creating one of the most competitive markets in the world.

Everyone knows that having a website enables businesses to position themselves in the global marketplace. Online brands have expanded their numbers, creating one of the most competitive markets in the world.

Due to the rapid advance of technology, and the launch of smart phones like Apple's iPhone and the various Blackberry models, it's easier than ever for consumers to access the Internet. According to the Internet World Stats and the ComScore Analytics Agency, the number of people in the USA using mobile devices to access information on the Internet has doubled compared with the previous year, representing 1 out of every 10 Internet users. Even so, there are other electronic devices, such as Play station 3 and rather remarkably, certain home appliances, like refrigerators, that have built-in Internet navigation.

All of this serves to broaden the sales of products; however, these technological advances are showing one major complication: not all websites look equal on such devices and, in some cases, fail to even appear at all.

Ensuring a website's compatibility is an extremely important step in the programming process, and is also the step that requires the most time and effort to complete. The effort is focused on designing a website appear the same, irrespective of what web browser or search engine (Mozilla Firefox, MS Internet Explorer, Apple Safari) or device is used to view it.

Still, web browsers are not solely responsible for the incompatibilities; a lack of support for different applications (plug-ins) also exists in the new devices and appliances. These web-plug-ins are needed to generate a greater visual impact on the part of some websites, to ensure the brand design is communicated clearly.

One baffling example of this problem is THE mother of all modern communication brands, the Apple's iPhone and its lack of support for Adobe Flash Player. Flash is perhaps the most used plug-in in website design. Many designed websites simply cannot function without this kind of support, rendering access to these site for a growing number of mobile Internet users impossible.

The upsurge of CSS (Cascade Style sheet), and the declaration of standards in the language of programming, as put forth by the W3C (a consortium dedicated to preserving and promoting standards on the Web programming and design), has been of great assistance to application designers who seek to optimize their applications on websites, whatever the platform being used.

Even though the visual design of a website is incredibly important, the structure and programming that make up its core is what help to correct these incompatibilities, and is only one of the reasons for dedicating more time and effort to this aspect of any successful website design and programming.

If the Internet allows access to a global market, the lack of a coherent web strategy or bad design of website may ultimately render this access obsolete. Ultimately, the ones to pay the price will be consumers and web brands, not the restrictive new devices: consumers will have limited access to the full range of products and services available online, will innovative web brands will not be allowed reach their full potential audience.

Ramon Lopez is in charge of Web Compatibility at Mijo! Brands. He is both a graphic brand designer and web programmer dedicated to searching out new technologies to enhance his clients' web presence.

 

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