College Papers/Text Only Web Browsers college paper 14377

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Text-only versions of web sites are crucial, if you have information on

your site that you deem important. I feel that most webmasters make a

terrible mistake when they assume every web browsing environment is the

same as theirs. Certainly, you can try to test out many web browsing

environments, such as IE and Netscape on PCs and Macintoshes, however

there are countless other environments one could never test within limited


There are many new web browsers entering the market, and gaining

popularity, such as "Opera," which has a very different "look and feel" in

web browsing, and also interprets sites in very different ways than

Netscape or IE.

On the other hand, there are countless users of legacy systems, who have

no access to graphically based web browsers. Lynx is text-only browser

which is still under development. Newer versions are being released,

therefore there are many users who still rely on this browser. For many

UNIX platform users, more than half of the system software they need are

only available on the web. In the unfortunate case that their computers

crash, and they need to recover important system software, the only base

web browser they can use is Lynx (it comes standard with the operating

system, and requires minimal system resources).

Other important topics within the realm of hardware include: system

resources. Many web surfers do not have the newest technology. They may

have slower than 14.4 kBPS connections, 8 MEGS of RAM (or less), and

processor speeds well under 100 MHz. However, designers of web sites

often have technology well beyond the above mentioned minimum. Therefore,

a graphically intense site will take 10 minutes or more to display! The

average user would halt the transfer before waiting this long. A VERY

common compromise for these users is to change the settings of their

browser to NOT download images. If your opening site has only a bitmapped

image (which is currently very popular), then you have excluded a large

percentage of your visitors.

In the corporate race for the "most popular web browser" title, Netscape

and Microsoft release new HTML abilities in attempt to mutually obsolete

eachother. One example is the ability for IE to interpret background

graphics within tables, while Netscape can currently only interpret

colored backgrounds in tables (not graphics). Because of this current

corporate culture, we will not see a commonly enforced standard on web

site design in the near future. For web designers who expect income from

their sites, it is in their best interest to not exclude any potential

visitors. Therefore, the only common denominator to expect in web design

is the text only site.

Successful webmasters are smart to consider a wide range of potential

visitors to their sites. Any design that could potentially exclude

visitors is usually a bad design. The best compromise is to have a

text-only version of every page on your site.


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