A longtime rural resident, I use my 60 plus years of life learning to opinionate here and elsewhere on the “interweb” on everything from politics to environmental issues. A believer in reasonable discourse rather than unhelpful attacks I try to give positive input to the blogesphere, so feel free to comment upon rural issues or anything else posted here. But don’t be surprised if you comments get zapped if you are not polite in your replys.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Internet Accessibility

I have been meaning to have a rant, or perhaps it is more of a whine, about the difficulties faced by those of us that do not have high speed internet connection for some time. Whether it is because it is simply not available or too costly, those like my self with a typical connection speed of around 28Kbs (throughput of 3 to 4 KBs) have no choice but to be very selective as to which sites we visit. A web site with a fancy header, multiple flashing doodads, lots of google ads etc that loads in some cases 1mb or more BEFORE the actual content comes up are simply not a option. I for one refuse to wait several minutes whist all this junk loads only to find that the web site is not what I was really looking for.

Some of the “news” sites are the worst for this, in trying to be all things to all people and adding multimedia, hi res pictures etc etc to their front page they are excluding many readers. One really good exception to this is the BBC News on line which loads in less than 5 seconds and where they have text only pages of all their content and the ability to switch to the higher content if one wishes to see pictures on a particular news item. As an example of the other side of the picture the Guardian site takes a full 2 minutes to load the text (which does come up first, which many sites do not) it then takes a further 3 minutes to fully load all the ads, pictures bells and whistles etc at todays connection speed of around 21K (Its raining, bell lines crap out when wet!)

That bloody flash player pop up is a real pain in the arse for us guys also. If the bloody thing would just come up as part of the page so that one could click on it if needed or the flash item just not show at all if not installed on your computer fine, but to have to cancel that friggin box every time you enter a site or change pages is bloody nuts. I note that it CAN be done away with by the host webmaster and replaced with a note (not pop up) saying that if you want to see the full content it is required, although I have only seen one site that has, just that most think that “there are only a few without it, why bother accommodating them”. Oh, and don’t be telling me that you can download this or that piece of software to handle that, just set your modem to a max of 28K and try it. When the thing drops out after 2 hours just before the download is complete see how enthusiastic you are about getting software that way!

The answer, for webmasters that care, is of course to be inclusive and accommodate as many folks as possible, it does not mean that these sites cannot have “heavy” content just that some accommodations must be made. Make the CONTENT and indexing LINKS load first so that folks can move on without waiting, provide text only pages or put High Content on separate links which those with high speed can follow if they wish, avoid “icon” links when simple text links will do, provide text or synopsis of video content, give the size of the PDF links so that we know what we are getting into before downloading and so on.
Many of the government sites are not bad in regard to speed of loading but they bury the content so many pages down that by the time you have waited for the 4th 0r 5th page to load only to see that one must click on yet another link to get to what one is looking for its hard to not get a little frustrated!

Do I expect any of those webmasters, many of whom have never even experienced dial up speeds to do any of these things. NO. Do I expect many of them to say “tough luck, get high speed, try wireless internet” YES. Do I expect them to realize that for many high speed is either not available or that the wireless or satellite option is way too expensive. NO. Do I feel better for this rant. OH YES.

1 comment:

Dbast said...

Seen my blog?

I touch on this topic...from the technology side.