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Dont Blindly Turn Customers Away

By Andy Brocklehurst
Posted Monday, September 27, 2004

If you owned a shop in a busy high street, would you stop one in five customers from even entering your store? Probably not, and yet in the wonderful world of the Internet, many businesses do just that!
I have recently done some monitoring on my own web site and on a collection of web sites that I have been a marketing consultant for. From monitoring twenty or so sites it is quiet apparent that many of the visitors to those sites are not using the very latest technology to come and browse. When I averaged out the figures from this base of web sites some of them were quite astounding to say the least.

For example, I found that 18% of those visitors were browsing with a screen resolution of 640 x 480 - yet how many sites do I see that are almost unusable in anything lower than 800 x 600! They are basically telling one in five or six "sorry you can't come into my store"!

Worse still, I have seen some sites that stipulate a resolution of 1024 x 768, and yet 60% of visitors on the monitoring I did only had 800 x 600! Other sites stipulate 16 million color depth, yet 55% of visitors to the sites I monitored were browsing with a color depth of 256 colors (thankfully these days less than 0.34% are using less than 256 colors).

4% did not java capable browsers, and 11% had disabled java (probably through the fear of java virus's).

Obviously these percentages vary, I used sites that I know to have a very general appeal, but even if you lose 5% of visitors before they even get in - you are throwing away money!


I don't know about you, but I work hard to promote my web site, and every visitor is a potential client as far as I am concerned. With that in mind I want every potential customer to:

1) Make it passed the front door and be able to enter the site.
2) Stay as long as possible - and if the site looks bad because it won't work with their settings they are not going to hang around.

I have talked to some web masters about this, and so many of them have this ridiculous attitude that says "well people should stay ahead of the technology" - in the real world we say "The customer is always right" - should that not be the case with web sales and marketing too?

How many sites have you seen that say "Best viewed with xyz browser" - try telling that to the Web-TV users, and those with older computers who cannot run the latest versions of web browsers!


Do you want a web site that can potentially sell to anyone who comes by your site or do you want a site with wizzy gadgets and flashy gizmos? Is your web site there to be "the most technologically advanced" or to be a "sales machine"? Lets finally consider one other point - there are the sites that let everyone in, but the navigation system is so difficult that visitors have a hard time getting around. I don't know about you, but when I shop, I like the stores that are well laid out and I can easily get to, and find the goods I want. If its like that in real life, it should be the same on the web.

In short we have to design our web sites so that:

1) Everyone who wants to, can get in. (or as close as you can get).

2) They load fast

3) They look good and are easy to navigate. Use free tools like site inspector, to do some basic checking for you, you can find site inspector at (http:///

If possible, keep an old web browser installed for testing purposes, or find people on line who are using the older technology and ask them to check it out for you. I once did some design work on a site and was glad I asked an AOL user to check it for me because with the AOL browser it just did not work at all! AOL is still one of the largest ISP's in the USA (among other countries) imagine if that site had gone live without checking!!


About the Author
Andy Brocklehurst is the creator of the Inner Room. A marketing super-site that's packed with practical ideas, tips and the tools you need to succeed with your own online business. (


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