Supporting and Using old browsers?

It’s a simple question, but one that we have to consider when doing web development.  Which browser should we support?  Which ones should we assume most people are using?  Which ones can we completely drop and leave behind?

If you’re talking the Windows PC platform, the current Microsoft offering (Edge) isn’t exactly our favorite, despite Microsoft telling us how good it is.  But, we have to code for it, since it’s widely adopted on Windows 10.  On the other side of that, millions of people running earlier versions of Windows still use Internet Explorer.  This despite the fact that it’s slow, buggy, crash-prone, and pretty much the Swiss cheese of security holes.  Microsoft themselves have more or less abandoned it, but still… we have to code for it too, since there’s such a wide array or users.

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Our current favorites and recommendations are Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.  Both are fast, easy enhanced / added to, and are actively updated and supported by vast communities of users.  We obviously code for these – on both the Windows and Mac platforms.  And speaking of Mac… yes, we include Safari in our supported browsers list.

Now on mobile, it’s the same story.  We have to support what’s available and used on Android and iOS.  After all, when you build adaptable, responsive websites, you absolutely must support mobile platforms if you want your websites to look and perform their best, regardless of how the end user is viewing them.

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So it’s really a tough question to give a definitive answer to from our perspective.  However, as a user, it’s an easier choice.  Stick with Firefox and Chrome, and throw in Safari if you’re on a Mac, and you should be good to go.  If you really like Edge, you can add it to your personal list, although there isn’t a compelling reason to do so with the alternatives available.  But we can say for sure, you should stop using Internet Explorer for the reasons we mentioned earlier.  It’s past its prime.

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That’s just touching on the browser surface, but we’ve tried to hit the main ones.  Sure there are smaller esoteric browsers out there like Opera, or ‘flavor variations’ based on Mozilla/Firefox, but if you’re getting into those, you must know enough about browsers to know what works best for you.  The important thing is there are many excellent choices available, and you should use what works best for you.

Thanks for reading!

 

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Domains, Domains and more Domains!

It used to be easy.  You had a business, or business idea, you needed a website for that business, so you registered a .COM domain name, and you were good to go.  Boy, how times have changed…

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Sure, there was .NET and .ORG .EDU and .GOV, but if you were setting up a business website, .com was really the only choice.  But only a few years into the whole world wide web explosion, many more options became available.   This was partly out of a need to have more possible domain names for the world, but also partly as a way for domain registrars to sell more domains.

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There are the country code top-level domains (of which there are MANY).  Most of these haven’t been used for their original intended purpose, but instead used in clever ways to tie the abbreviations to the type of site it is; such as .TV (from the country of Tuvalu) for a television station or show.

Then we have the “generic” English top-level domains… normal ones like .BIZ and .INFO.  But then it gets a bit more esoteric, with domains like .AUTO .ACTOR .BEER .SEX… you get the idea.  You’ll find much of the same thing with other languages as well, including French, Italian, Chinese, among many others.  It’s a bit overwhelming, if you ask us.  And this very well could have been included in our previous website annoyances or more website annoyances posts!

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And it creates another problem for those registering a new name for a business.  You have to take into account variations on your domain name, if you want to accurately protect your business.  In addition to going for the obvious .COM .NET .BIZ and .CO, you’ll also want to including misspelled versions of your name.  People make mistakes typing.  If your business takes off, you don’t want some malware purveyor buying similar names to yours (maybe one letter out of place), and having potential customers mistyping your name, getting a virus, then blaming your company on social media!

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And along those lines, you may want to consider buying up names with the word “SUCKS” after your business names.  You don’t want a disgruntled customer or competitor buying those up to badmouth your company!  It can get exhausting, but if you’re looking to protect your assets, it’s a necessary evil.  So now it’s not longer just about getting a good domain name to start (although that’s still very important – as we wrote about it in a previous blog article.

We’ll have more on domains in a future post, but the takeaway from this is to do your research, buy up the domains you think you’ll need, then get that amazing business website up for the world to see.  of course, we’re happy to help you wade through the domain name jungle if you need it.  Just contact us and we’ll give you a hand.

Thanks for reading!

Predatory Domain Registration

If you’re like most of us with more than one business website domain, you’ve no doubt received emails and or mailed letters with urgent wording that your domain name is about to expire.  They look official, exactly like a bill or invoice you might see for something like this.  The price is usually quite high, and there’s lot’s of scary wording about potentially losing that domain name if you don’t act right away.

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These could all be legitimate, of it weren’t for the fact that the notices do not come from your actual domain name registrar, but from a predatory registrar who is trying to trick you into paying this bill, which if you do, will transfer your domain name to that company, which, depending on the company, may result in you losing control of your domain, and your website.

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You may find some typos, or some grammar mistakes in the letters, but if you miss those, it’s not always easy to tell that they are fake.  The scammers are hoping that you, the legitimate domain name owner, may not remember who your actual domain name registrar is (ie. Network Solutions, GoDaddy, HostGator), and that since this looks like a legitimate notice, and you certainly don’t want to lose your domain name, you may very well think it’s the real thing, and send them payment.

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If you stop to read the whole notice – especially the fine print – you’ll see something to the effect that this is a solicitation, not a bill, and that you will be transferring your domain name registration to them if you send payment.  That said, not all of the notices we’ve seen are completely clear on this, given that their goal is to convince you to pay the bill quickly without taking the time to read everything.

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If you can’t remember who your registrar is, you can always do a “who is” lookup on your domain name to find that information.  The official ICANN website has that feature easily available on their home page: ICANN – WHOIS, and there are plenty of other websites that do the same thing.  So if you receive one of these notices, and you aren’t sure if it’s on the up and up, take a minute to check your domain, so you don’t fall victim to one of these scammers.  And if you still aren’t sure, or just have general business website questions, fee free to contact us any time, we’re happy to help.

Thanks for reading!

HTML5 vs. Flash

If you’ve been using the web for a while, you know how Flash – which originally started as a way to play audio and video for multimedia productions – became the standard for web animations, especially in the late ’90s / early ’00s.  This was even more true when YouTube chose to use Flash, which quickly put competing formats like Real Audio / RealVideo out to pasture.

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But with the popularity of Flash, came the rise in malware attacks against it.  And that continues today, with numerous exploits found and taken advantage of, while Adobe puts out updates and patches to close the security holes.  And because of this, and the rapid way Flash became popular, there has been, and continues to be instability in the Flash platform – causing system crashes, slowdown and more.  This is a big reason why Apple dropped support of Flash in 2012, as well as Android later.

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When it comes to websites, Flash is also not the most efficient way to animate.  It can often cause slow loading pages, incompatibilities with browsers, or incorrect formatting on different devices.  HTML 5 on the other hand, is much more streamlined, and has a rich feature set for mobile devices.  And if you want a responsive optimized website, HTML5, not Flash is the way to go forward.  There is much more consistency in formatting and presentation no matter what type of device you’re using to view the content.

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Our websites take advantage of the rich feature set and stability of HTML5.  They load faster, look better, scale to format, and require less code to achieve the same results.  And a faster loading, better looking site means a happy customer.  And that’s really the bottom line.

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So if you’re thinking of a website redo, and your developer is suggesting Flash, let him/her know that you’d rather go with the most reliable and contemporary HTML5.  If you don’t get the answer you’d like to hear, give us a call, and we’ll be happy to take over the project.

Thanks for reading!

More Website Annoyances!

Since we still see so many things that irk us with websites, we’ve decided to write another article on them.  You can read our first one here.

So this time, we’ve got another three that we’re sure you’ve all encountered (and have been just as annoyed by) in your web travels.  Being in website development, we may see more of these than the average computer user, but we’re sure you’ll be able to relate…

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(1) Pages that seem to load, and as you start scrolling to read the content, the page suddenly loads more and jumps up or down another paragraph.  And it doesn’t just happen once.  We’ve seen it continue the entire time you’re on the site – which in our case isn’t very long, since it’s nearly impossible to read anything when you keep losing your place.  The only solution we’ve found is to highlight and copy all the text, then paste it into the word processor or text editor of your choice, to read it.  After that, close that tab, and don’t go back.  Seriously, how do the owners of these sites (many of them news and/or magazines) expect people to put up with that for long?  Just stop it already!

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(2) Business websites that aren’t mobile friendly.  Nearly everyone has a smart phone or tablet these days, and a high percentage of web browsing is done on one of those devices.  Responsive website technology has been available for quite some time, and it doesn’t take much to add the additional formatting and scaling a mobile device requires to make the site user friendly.  We understand if it’s just a personal website or blog kind of thing, but if you’re running a business, and you want to reach and gain new customers, there’s no excuse to not support mobile devices.  We can’t speak for everyone, but when we encounter such a site, we’re done.  We’ll look for someone else who can provide that service or product.

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(3) Multiple “download” buttons on the same page.  Unfortunately, we see this one all the time.  Go looking for a free or trial version of some software or other, and you’re going to encounter this problem.  You get to the page, only to be confronted with 5, 6 or maybe even 10 different download buttons!  how the heck are you supposed to know which one is the actual application you came here for, and which ones are dubious links to questionable Eastern European scammer websites where you’re likely to get an instant computer virus or scam popup telling you to call “Microsoft” (yeah, right) to get help cleaning it off.  It’s not only frustrating, but dangerous too.  Ransom-ware is out there, and trust us, you don’t want to get that on your computer!  Do these site really think they’ll get return visitors (to see the ads they’re running) if they give them a virus with a fake download button?  Fortunately, there are some good / trustworthy sites out there.  Our personal recommendation is majorgeeks.com – it’s where we get all our freeware tools.

That’s it for this installment.  We’re sure we’ll be back with more, as there just doesn’t seem to be an end to these badly designed and annoying websites.

Thanks for reading!

 

Is Your Website Helping or Hurting your Business?

Having a website for your business is an absolute requirement in this day and age.  Customers, and potential customers want a way to see what you’re all about, the products and services you offer, and learn about the company they may or may not do business with.  For a lot of people, your website is the first impression someone gets of your company.  And unfortunately, in many cases, it may be the last impression too.

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Even if your business is doing well, and when people meet you face to face they’re more than happy to do business with you, and recommend your company to others.  But if your website is a few years old – maybe some HTML you threw together yourself in the early 2,000s – you may be losing far more customers than you know; well before they even were customers.  And if it looks like the extreme example above, you need some serious help!

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We already touched on some good website design choices in a previous blog article, so give that a read if you haven’t already.  But the bottom line is, if your website doesn’t accurately reflect what your business is all about, then it needs to be changed.  Even if the design is good, if the content is lacking, or worse, out of date and incorrect, you’re really doing yourself and your business a disservice, and you need to remedy that situation as soon as possible.

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When you think about it, your business website very much like having a second store or business location.  It should be appealing, fun, fresh and interesting – in the same way that you would decorate the outside of your business to attract customers.  If your website isn’t doing that, or isn’t meeting your business goals and objectives, then it’s not helping your business.

If you aren’t sure whether or not your website suffers from some of these problems, have some of your existing customers whom you trust take a good look at it, and get their feedback on what works and what doesn’t.  Then take steps to resolve those problems, either via simple updates, or if your website is really outdated, do a redesign.  And we can help with that website redesign if you decide to go that route.

Your business and your customers will appreciate it!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Website Annoyances!

OK, we all know there are plenty of things about the web that just aggravate, irritate and annoy us on a daily basis.  And we’re not just talking about spam, phishing, viruses and malware.  Nor are we grumbling about garish color palettes or bad design choices – although we have touched on some of those already in a previous blog article on business website mistakes.

No, today we want to touch on 3 things that we continue to see on business websites, that are easily fixed.  These are things that shouldn’t have been a part of the websites from the beginning.  We certainly don’t do things like this with websites we design, nor should you.

(1) Badly implemented online forms

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We’ve all seen them… forms with fields that aren’t marked “required” or “optional”.  Drop-down menus that, when you attempt to scroll using your mouse wheel, the drop-down menu just closes.  Or forms that, when submitted, and a field is missing, you are presented with a failure / error message of some kind, and then joy of joys… your form is no BLANK, and you get to start all over.  Ugh!

(2) Immediate “sign up” prompts

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Maybe you get an email with a link, or you see a news story you want to read posted on another website.  So you click, you arrive at the news site, and begin to read the article, when BOOM, up pops a full screen plea to sign up for email updates, or create a membership account!  Wait… I’ve never been here before, I haven’t even read a full sentence yet, have no idea if your article is even worth reading, but you want me to create an account and pay for you content?!  At that point you look for and if you’re lucky, find the tiny little X to close the window.  And if you’re anything like us, you’re done, and leave the site in disgust.

(3) Unwanted audio

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Similar to the above example, let’s say you visit a website to read an article.  You’re a couple sentences in, and all of a sudden there’s sound screaming from your speakers.  “Buy this fantastic widget!”, or “You must watch this video of people doing stupid and/or amazing things on camera”.  And many times you can’t even mute them  And you know you don’t want to actually click them, because who knows where that will take you, or what kind of malware your computer will be infected with when you do.  Just like above, that’s it for us… close that window or tab, and move on.

We have plenty of other examples of this kind, but we’ll save them for another article.  After all, we don’t want to be accused of writing blog articles that are too long and aggravating our followers!

Thanks for reading!