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eleventen is no longer looking for new business but continues to service existing clients.

Website considerations

Important considerations when building a website:

Database driven websites save money

Moving to a database driven website, which is the separation of content from design, is a major step forward for any business.

Eleventen highly recommends building a database driven website for the following reasons:

Building a database driven website can be more costly upfront but often saves money in the long.

Eleventen has a scalable, database driven, Content Management System (CMS) called ShopFront. ShopFront allows our clients to update, publish and promote content through their website and has been created with a strong emphasis on ease of use, making it as quick and easy as possible. All data is stored in a database with search functions, shopping carts and Mobile phone versions easily added on.

For an onsite demonstration of ShopFront feel free to contact us.

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Is Flash turning customers away?

Flash can enhance your websites visual appeal and can assist in the communication of ideas through visual animation but seriously consider the costs to your business, including loss of potential customers and the doubling of work, before using it on your website.

Flash is a browser plug-in (add on feature) and thus not everyone has the technology to view Flash content. Using Flash on your website will reduce its customer reach (accessibility), as of December 2004 92% of Asian users had the version 6 plug-in installed (And that is according to Macromedia themselves). What this translates to is, by using Flash you are potentially turning away 1 in 10 customers.

The most critical flaw of Flash, as we see it, is that its content is not crawl able by search engines like Google. As search engines generate on average 80% of traffic to websites, this is a massive potential customer base to neglect.

Another important aspect of Flash is that it disables common browser functions that users are familiar with. This includes the limited ability to print and book mark web pages, as well as the disabling of the always popular Back button. This makes for an unconventional and uncomfortable user experience and reflects poorly on your brand.

Eleventen does not completely discourage the use of Flash on websites but recommends only using embedded Flash elements, as enhancements, within a predominantly HTML page.

If you do use Flash, make sure your website has detection scripts in place to automatically detect if a user has the plug-in and avoid ugly popup screens asking users to install it.

Lastly and most importantly, always provide alternative content should a user not have Flash. Having two versions of something means extra work though so always consider whether using Flash will be worth it for what you are trying to achieve.

View Macromedias own Flash version penetration statistics here.

Not sure if your website currently detects Flash and/or provides alternative content? Why not try eleventen’s free usability test which covers this topic, as well as many other aspects of the usability of your website.

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PDFs almost unacceptable on a website

PDFs are often criticised by experienced web professionals and certainly by website usability and accessibility advocates.

PDF viewing software, such as Adobe Acrobat, are browser plug-ins (non-standard add on features) and thus not everyone has the technology to view PDF content. Using PDFs on your website will reduce its customer reach (accessibility) and can turn customers away who often do not like installing the software or using them.

When clicking to view a PDF, if a user has the plug-in already installed, they are taken from the website interface they were using, and are presented with an entirely new navigation system. This is a poor user experience and will reflect poorly on your brand.

If a user does not have the plug-in installed, they are prompted to download, and weighing in at a hefty 13MB it is an unappealing process for them to go through to get some content.

PDF viewers are also often criticised for their slowness as they require another piece of software to initiate outside of the normal web browser environment.

eleventen only advocates the use of PDFs for downloadable or printable documents and then this format is not our first choice. If you have large documents that you want users to be able to print out, then we encourage using the Rich Text Format (RTF). RTF documents can be created using MS Word or WordPad and are far more accepted by users.

Note - Eleventen could find no official statistics on the uptake of PDF readers, with no information on the Adobe website and no response to emails asking them for information. We view this with scepticism. Reports found on the internet did however mention that Adobe, in a conference they held, had mentioned that Acrobat had a 50% uptake by web users. Half of your potential customers.

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Is JavaScript restricting use of your website?

JavaScript is a non-standard scripting language used to enhance web pages. It allows functions like pull down menus, pop-up windows, dialog boxes and rollovers that are not available in standard web development (HTML).

JavaScript is widely used on the web but it is important to note that it is only enabled in 93% of browsers. Any content that is only accessible via a JavaScript function on your website, like popup windows and pull down menus may not be accessible to 1 out of 10 users to your website.

Imagine loosing 10 out of every 100 customers to your website because JavaScript in your shopping cart or navigation did not work for them?

Often navigation systems use JavaScript and this can means users, who do not have JavaScript enabled, are unable to get to core content on a website.

Eleventen often use JavaScript to enhance the usability of websites but we always provide standard methods of getting to important content should the enhanced JavaScript functions not be available. This is all done behind the scenes to users who will know no different.

Not sure if your website uses JavaScript? Why not try eleventen’s free usability test which covers this topic, as well as many other aspects of the usability of your website.

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Why Div/CSS based designs are better than using tables

Div and Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) based websites use less code and are easier to update than table based designs.

This translates to money saving benefits in ease of updating as well as a better performing website that loads faster for users and often ranks better in search engines.

CSS was developed for styling information. Tables, as their name suggests, were developed to hold tabular information (like lists and reports) and not for creating visual interfaces.

A lot of designers and developers still use tables to develop their interfaces and this is because they have got into the habit. Before CSS was developed, tables were all designers had to use to manage the placement of content on a website.

Now, with the wide acceptance of CSS in browsers, there is no excuse not to develop websites using them.

Not sure if your website uses a Div/CSS based design or a table based one? Why not try eleventen’s free usability test which covers this topic, as well as many other aspects of the usability of your website.

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