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The Importance of Compatibility

By Kalena Jordan    24th December 1999

Have you ever looked at a web site that wasnít quite right? Perhaps the content didnít fit properly in a frame or the text was all skewed across the page? Or even worse, you get error messages for parts of a site that just wonít load in your browser, yet your colleagues can see it perfectly?

Welcome to the world of browser incompatibility. This happens when a site is designed for a particular type of browser, (ie Microsoftís Internet Explorer or Netscapeís Navigator) or even a specific version of that browser, without any consideration for persons viewing the site using different browsers or older versions. You see, a very flashy corporate site that might look fantastic in version 4.0 or 5.0 of Internet Explorer can end up looking like a childís finger painting in Navigator 3.0 and vice versa.

Which is why backwards-compatibility testing by web development firms is so important prior to site launch. Unfortunately, the tedious nature of testing and work involved in making the site compatible with all browsers often means web designers take short cuts Ė either avoiding testing completely or satisfying themselves with making the site compatible with only the latest browsers. The company commissioning the site is usually left unaware that their site is not backwards-compatible and that some of their site visitors are forming a negative opinion of their site and consequently, their company. When the competition is only one click away, image is EVERYTHING.





Another short cut development firms sometimes take is with search engine compatibility. The creation of site META tags in the HTML code and the inclusion of key search terms relating to site content in the body text can make a world of difference to how a web site ranks in search engines. Known as site optimization, this value-added service takes a little more time within the site build, but can ensure the client site receives the maximum exposure in search engines and consequently, much more site traffic. Some web development firms donít even bother to register the site with major search engines, let alone know how to optimize the site for better search engine performance.

There are companies I've heard of that have had a web site for a number of years but have no idea how it is performing, why persons are complaining about errors or why it isnít receiving traffic. Theyíve been ripped off by sub-standard web developers who either donít know, or donít care enough about web compatibility to do an adequate job.

Fortunately, this lack of compatibility can be reversed. Even sites that have been launched some time ago can be analysed, tested and re-designed for browser compatibility as well as optimized for search engines. Whatís more, site performance can now be measured by sophisticated site traffic measurement and search engine ranking software. Comprehensive site logs (or visitor statistics) can give you a good indication of how your site is performing over a long period.

These statistics are an extremely useful management/analysis tool because it enables site stakeholders to interpret visitor trends and identify areas needing improvement. It is particularly useful for justifying/curbing Internet expenditure and planning for future site expansion.

There will always be sub-standard web development firms that try to cut corners with web site production. But that doesnít mean you have to settle for second best. Armed with the knowledge of what compatibility standards your site should meet, you can insist your site is tested and up to scratch well before launch.  

The above article may be re-published as long as the content remains unchanged and the following paragraph is included at the end of the article, including the URL link.

Article by Kalena Jordan, CEO of Web Rank.
Kalena was one of the first search engine optimization experts
in Australasia and is well known and respected in her field.
For more of her articles on search engine ranking and online
marketing, please visit High Search Engine Ranking.


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