Help eradicate IE6 from the planet. Add some JavaScript script in your site for IE6 users.

 

ie6

 

When I started the blog and before launching it, I was working on customizing the blog software to work on the WordPress theme I chose. I was testing the pages using different browsers. The pages rendered properly under these browser... except in IE6. I decided I wasn't going to fix the site for IE6. If I fix it, it just means I am encouraging IE6 users to stick with that old obsolete browser. Because if the sites display and work properly they have no incentive to upgrade nor change to a different browser.

I added some JavaScript to display a banner at the top of the screen when an IE6 visitor visits the site. It notifies them that the page might not display properly. And it doesn't! The site works but some parts of the layout are  broken. I was hoping that if enough sites look broken to IE6 users, they would be encouraged to use a better browser. They don't have to use IE. In fact I prefer if they switch to Firefox, Google Chrome or Safari. IE7 & IE8 still have bugs and they do not support HTML5 & CSS3.

I was also happy to know that Microsoft is also pushing IE6 users to upgrade through their ie6countdown.com site. 12% IE6 browser market share is still too high. The goal is less than 1%.

You can educate IE6 users but adding the JavaScript provided at ie6countdown.com. IE6 users will receive a warning similar to the one below. It's also a link to Microsoft's IE page. I decided to stick with my own warning banner because it mentions that the page won't display properly in IE6 so it's more informative in that respect.

If you want a better web, help by educating IE6 users. I am aware that some IE6 users can't upgrade due to app compatibility issues and other reasons. We are targeting IE6 users who can upgrade without limitations.

 

IE6_warning
Microsoft’s warning when IE6 visits a page

 

ie6warning_blog
My own warning when IE6 visits my blog

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Provide downloadable audio files even if your podcast/show target is video

There's something odd with ThisWeekIn.com. They only provide video streaming for their shows. I have been listening to the podcast This Week in Startups, TWiST, long before ThisweekIn.com came to life. TWiST is the original show and it started as a lonely audio only podcast. Then they added streaming video to it, then they created the ThisWeekIn Video Web TV network. That's what they are calling it. Web TV Network. Thankfully TWiST is still available as an audio podcast which I download from the RSS feed. The rest of the shows are not. I don't understand the decision of not providing an audio download as well. I am not going to sit in front of a computer watching 2+ people talking for an extended period of time. That's not a good use of my time if I can just listen to them on audio while commuting for example.

Are they targeting YouTube generation who watches TV on their computers only? Even if that's their target audience, why exclude the listeners who are interested in the audio part only?

I have two options. Just listen to TWiST only or spend time capturing the video stream and extract the audio into an MP3 file. I decided my time is more valuable than doing monotonous manual work every time I want to listen to a show. Plus I think I am only interested in the show about startups because I am also a web entrepreneur. However at least I wanted to check out the other shows. The fact they weren't available in audio persuaded me to not bother.

I think they are ignoring a big portion of an audience by not providing their shows in other formats. Not everyone wants to sit in front of computer and watch a talk show which is mostly as good in audio only format.

If you produce a video show, you will get more visitors if you provide your show in other formats as well. MP3 format must be of them. The process of creating different formats can be fully automated and it's not an investment that should be avoided. It's just computer power cost.

(Note: my previous post was about ThisWeekIn.com's multiple broken action based pages which have no content!)

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Put some text indicating the page is being worked.

 

thisweekin_logo

Sometimes I visit pages that have no content or content that's seriously lacking. I tried sending an email at ThisWeekIn.com using their contact form and the form is missing. First I thought the page had some rendering issues with the browser I am using. I checked the page using a different browser and it's the same missing form. I also noticed every link in the footer goes to an empty master template which no real content. OK so this is a site which incomplete pages.

The problem here is there's nothing on these pages indicating that these pages are being worked on. A page should not let the user wonder why they are not seeing the content they are expecting to see.

I know this site has been up for at least a few months so putting up empty pages like that makes the site look unprofessional and tardy. I follow the podcast This Week in Startups and I have heard, Jason Calacanis the host, numerous times talk about how important a web site content is. So I find it odd that his own site is lacking important content. A future blog of mine will be about the lack of available audio format for This Week In podcasts.

If the site has pages which are still under construction, put some text like 'Coming Soon' to inform the user that the pages are in progress. Never let the user think as to why there's missing content for no good reason.

 

thisweekin_contactform

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Don't force a mobile version of your site for devices like the iPad. Worse, not enabling an option for full version.

If you are planning to release a mobile version of your site to mobile devices, make sure you send a mobile version to mobile devices which have a small screen, not to any mobile device. The iPad is not one of them. The iPad has a full blown browser on an 9.7" wide screen, capable of rendering a web page in full width without the need to scroll horizontally.

You should also provide an option to switch to the full non mobile version. Many mobile devices use full browsers and some users prefer to view a site in its normal non mobile version and zoom in/out when needed.

One example site which breaks these guideless is unitusccu.com. I tried browsing it on my iPad and it automatically switched to unitusccu.com/mobile. The page consisted of a list of links, a subset of the full site. There was no option to view the full site. As I mentioned earlier, the iPad is capable of rendering a full web page with legible small text, just like a browser on a desktop computer or laptop.

A site developer can query the screen resolution from the incoming request and decide which site version to send back. CSS3's media queries is a good method to check for screen resolution.

I recommend this article from Smashing Magazine, http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/07/19/how-to-use-css3-media-queries-to-create-a-mobile-version-of-your-website.

Your site might render the wrong version but if you provide a way to choose the other version, non mobile vs. mobile, at least you gave the visitor a way to recover.

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Have an easy to find sign on/register link

If you have a site which requires the user to log in to do an action like posting a comment, the site should have an easy to find method for the visitor to register.

Take the example of eHow.com. There's a "sign in" link. But how do you register to become a member? There's no link anywhere. Not next to the “sign in” link nor in the log in screen.

Any "sign in" or "log in" page should have two extra links. A some kind of "forgot my password" link to retrieve your forgotten password and a link to register. If I can't log in, I would be taking one of these actions. That's why it's important to make these links accessible in the area where a user logs in.

While eHow has a method to log in using a Facebook account, some visitors, including myself, never use their Facebook account to log into a non Facebook site. I use my Facebook account for Facebook.com only.

A highly usable site should make it easy for the visitor to take an action right at the spot where they are mostly likely to look for the particular link.

 

ehow login

eHow.com sign in popup. No sign on how to register here or on home page

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