Internet Marketing Stupidities

It's Amazing the Number of Internet Marketers Who Don't Know Much About Internet Marketing

October 2, 2004

How really, really, really, annoyed and upset should I be that there are blocks of strings of characters in straight lines on the [RightNow] site that are graphics rather than text? I'm realizing that it's at least "fingernails down a chalk board" annoying, but I'm not sure if it's worse. But I know it's not as bad as talking to a USAA agent...

When will those marketing people get it? Elliot Schlegelmilch

The image thing is weird. See, the image is:

  1. blurry
  2. hard to read
  3. won't scale nicely in any browser (though Opera will zoom it for you)
  4. larger (file size wise)
  5. won't be delivered to all visitors

but it looks a little nicer to one person, so we are using it instead of text - which would be:

  1. crisp and clear
  2. easy to read
  3. would scale nicely in any browser but IE
  4. smaller
  5. would be delivered to all visitors

For a computer hacking geek/Dungeons and Dragons playing nerd type, I definitely don't have a bunch of techie toys around, but I am thinking I need to get a blackberry or a web enabled phone. The argument I get against doing things right is:

  1. All internet users have high speed or faster internet connections, so any concerns about file size are obsolete and should not be considered valid
  2. IE has about 400% browser market share, therefore that only standard that is in any way relevant is that it work in IE, and IE supports graphics, therefore graphics should be used wherever possible (the indications that FireFox is growing market share is a fluke and won't last, and even if it does, there is no way that FireFox can get more than about a 5% market share because IE is
    1. so much better
    2. so much better
    3. made by Micro$oft
    4. so much better
    5. installed on every computer that has ever been sold (though this has absolutely nothing with it getting its market share)
    6. and so much better
    despite the fact that one of the features that makes FireFox appealing to many of the users who use it is that in FireFox you can block many of the tracking methods used to determine browser share...)
  3. Macromedia says that they have 98% browser penetration, so everyone has flash, therefore flash:
    1. is good
    2. should be used everywhere possible
    despite the fact that there are many browsers out there that do not support plugins, and by default these browsers are not seen by/registered with the tracking software determining browser penetration, but from reviews of log files on some servers I have passing access to, these constitute between 1.5 and 3% of internet traffic. Coupling this with the raw numbers (a few years old now):
    1. ~800,000,000 internet users
    2. ~500,000,000 total copies of Flash and Shockwave installed (all versions, all platforms, includes individual downloads and those copies distributed on new machines or purchased separately)
    Assuming that nobody ever upgraded and nobody ever had difficulty downloading and had to download again, and nobody ever removed flash once they installed it ~65% of internet users would have flash. Interestingly enough, watching stats that record plugin availability, it seems that between 55% and 75% of real recorded visitors actually have flash of some version.

First, dial-up is still the most prevalent method for connection. This means that dial-up is still a consideration. Even ignoring this fact, file size/download speed is definitely a consideration. how many people can you name who are spending as much as 20 times as much each month for a high speed connection so downloads are still slow and they still have to wait for things. No matter how fast connections get, speed will still be a significant consideration for any professional web designer or web developer.

Then, regardless how much market share IE has, there is a standard, and the standard is the standard, regardless of what IE may or may not do. It is important that the standard be open and independently controlled, so that better browsers can be developed to provide better experiences for the users. Fixing web sites to what IE may or may not do is bad for the internet, bad for designers, and bad for users, because if Micro$oft ever decides to change wheat IE does, everyone is screwed. If people build to the standard,then everyone should be able to use the site, regardless of what browser they wish to use or how they wish to access it. And there isn't someone who can arbitrarily just change everything and break every site in the world for all users - M$ can only break the web for people unfortunate enough to use their defective browser by arbitrarily changing what their browser does.

As for Flash, marketing people will get shocked when you tell them that 300,000,000 potential visitors can't view the flash, and this is a big deal until they get the (false) 98% number, then suddenly you're a shithead for telling the truth - regardless of how much evidence you can put forward to support your claims or hypotheses.

This particular project has been very stressful on me. I think Chris and Tonia (our two 'web specialists') probably think I'm a total dick because the more of these things I have had to cave on in this project, the more defensive I have been on the other things - like a recommendation that we just put list items in a page without putting them in an ordered or unordered list (or a menu or dictionary list) so that it would not be indented. Unfortunately, this is one of those things that you cannot do with any practicality with CSS because IE applies the margin or the padding to the contents of the block rather than to the block itself like it is supposed to (and every other browser does). I may be becoming jaded and old and turning into a BWDFH...

Another thing I find highly interesting is that what everyone seems to always want to build (or have built) anymore is a portal - one page with everything in the world in seventy bijillion little boxes all in microprint with all the information constantly updated by non-existent staff to keep everything current by magic. They want this because the web site owners (and some designers) believe that if you provide everything, everyone will come to your site and use it and you will make a million dollars in sales because nobody will ever have to or want to go anywhere else. However, with the exception of people who have built their own portal sites for their own use, very few people want to USE a portal site because the site is big, slow, complicated, confusing, hard to find things in, and hard to use. Most people who use portal sites, use one or two things on one or two screens as a starting point from which they leave the portal to get what they want - only to return if they need that thing again.

Of course, just to add to the frustration level, people here want a cross between the magic portal site, a simple, static brochure-ware site, and the world's best marketing site. But it seems that they want the worst parts of each. Each page should be totally customized and personalized for each user who gets to the site, but the pages should all always be exactly the same until we need to change them, because if anything was dynamically compiled, we run the risk of letting a service prospect see a locator quote on a metrics page, and that just would be the absolute end of the world (mind you, just because information can be filtered by topic wouldn't mean it would be - the result of trying that is that it is too much work to get the check a category checkbox when data is entered into the site - and of course, if the data is entered wrong into the database, it comes out wrong, and that can't be blamed on the person(s) who entered bad information, it has to be blamed on the person who built a system that was capable of accepting wrong information). In addition to each page being absolutely the same and totally unique at the same time, they also need to collect all the visitors personal information without the person knowing - or better yet, have the site change so that if you view three pages in the products section of the site, the next page you visit is the demo request form. (doesn't matter what you clicked on, after you saw three pages, you wanted a demo - what do you mean this is likely to piss off the users? we're helping them get what they want!). And, by the way, why aren't you done yet?