[thelist] Re: Need some cross-browser propaganda links

Graham Leggett minfrin at sharp.fm
Tue May 4 12:05:23 CDT 2004

chris at martiantechnologies.com wrote:

> There is no link between the first two assumptions and the last. You are only ignoring
 > 30,000,000 potential customers if the distribution of browser types 
across your customer
 > base is the same as the distribution of browser types across the 
world. This is unlikely
 > to be the case. For example, if someone uses Lynx, they are unlikely 
to use the web to
 > obtain products and services.

The target market is a very important factor in deciding on your 
technology to use. We recently developed an intranet application that 
relies heavily on stylesheets to reduce the need for customised 
graphics. This significantly reduced development time, as the customer's 
needs at the time were very fluid (something the customer was happy to 
pay for).

IE's support for this was poor, so instead of spending time trying to 
fix things to work with IE, we installed Mozilla on the target machines, 
and configured the desktops to "launch the application" using Mozilla, 
regardless of whatever local browser was installed. The users, who were 
used to the old client/server system the website replaced, didn't think 
anything of it, in fact some people don't even know what they're running 
is a website.

Now the application is being considered for an extranet deployment, 
which obviously means less control over the browser environment, but now 
that the system has settled down, we can focus development budget on 
getting it to work with IE.

> It must also be borne in mind that the cost of developing a cross-browser application
 > minus the cost of developing an IE-only application divided by the 
number of non-IE
 > customers must be greater than or equal to the average profit 
generated by non-IE
 > users over the lifespan of the site being developed for it to be 
viable in a business
 > sense.

It is seldom business sense to annoy potential customers, because an 
annoyed potential customer talks to other potential customers, and the 
fallout that results is huge. One of the local banking conglomerates 
here did a study of their customer service, and found that due to the 
resulting word of mouth, each "service related incident" resulted in 
them losing one customer per incident. People in technical positions 
would be well served to learn some marketing skills to put their designs 
into perspective.

But regardless, there is usually no direct cost involved for building a 
website cross platform, as doing so by and large means knowing which 
technologies to use for the task at hand, and which technologies to 
avoid (unless you have special needs, as we had above). There is however 
a temptation to use "cut rate labour" to produce sites in an effort to 
reduce costs, hiring a less experienced developer for less money, who 
then produces a website that only works on the browser that happens to 
be installed on their desktop. This however is false economy - you get 
what you pay for.


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