Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Idea: Simpler Web sites, pages for dialup readers

The "digital divide" in America is not just between those who use computers and the Internet and those who don't. It's also between people who have high-speed or broadband service and those who don't, especially as video, Flash and other bandwidth-suckers become more prevalent. And most of the people who want or need broadband but can't get it are in rural areas.

Should newspapers with circulation areas that straddle the digital divide create simpler Web sites or pages that take less time to download? We know at least two newspapers have been thinking about doing just that for their rural readers who are still on dialup, so we're checking to see if anyone else has already done it. If you've done it, or know someone who has, post a comment to this item or send an e-mail to Al.Cross@UKy.edu. Thanks!

4 comments:

Dean Betz said...

Depending on how the site is built, it should be a fairly trivial development project to produce a set of templates to display a site's content in a low-bandwidth format -- light on images, text ads instead of graphical ads, etc. That used to be a fairly common feature before many of us started to take high-speed Internet connections for granted.



Part of the ROI math will depend on how much of your traffic comes from home dialup connections. At the sites I've managed, including one that covered a lot of rural Pennsylvania, the vast majority of our traffic came during work hours, when people were using high-speed connections in their offices. That kind of traffic analysis should be easy to get -- your mileage may vary.

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Dean Betz
Content director, chron.com/Houston Chronicle

Daryl Phillips said...

Though some still love to load in those flashy bandwidth hogging features into their sites, most economic development experts concentrate on minimizing download times. Some of our target market may be using dial-up, but busy professionals, especially those who have grown up with high speed connections, may leave our site before our message reaches them.

Concentrating on making your site more efficient for the limited bandwidth of dial-up may just make your site more effective.

BRATCH said...

This has less to do with dialup users and more to do with infatuations with bandwidth hogging features.

There are basically two kinds of newspaper web sites.

One has practically nothing on it because they haven't figured out how to operate the web site without giving up everything in the paper for free.

The second is a web site with so much video, flash and other junk crammed onto the front page that doesn't matter how fast your internet connection is, it's loading slowly.

Once a newspaper decides to jump head first into utilizing their web sites, many times they pack too much onto their front page hoping for impulse clicks.

Keeping it simple and offering the bells as whistles as complements to the news, which is why everyone is on the site to begin with, is a much better plan, in my opinion.

BRATCH said...

This has less to do with dialup users and more to do with infatuations with bandwidth hogging features.

There are basically two kinds of newspaper web sites.

One has practically nothing on it because they haven't figured out how to operate the web site without giving up everything in the paper for free.

The second is a web site with so much video, flash and other junk crammed onto the front page that doesn't matter how fast your internet connection is, it's loading slowly.

Once a newspaper decides to jump head first into utilizing their web sites, many times they pack too much onto their front page hoping for impulse clicks.

Keeping it simple and offering the bells as whistles as complements to the news, which is why everyone is on the site to begin with, is a much better plan, in my opinion.