Dialup – lest we forget

Web page loading speed – still worth considering during web page design? The day we switched to broadband I sang the “Dial-up Blues” for the last time and danced a little jig around my router.

“Now THAT is an impressive website! Isn’t it?”
“Try it on dialup.”
“Who still uses dialup?”
“Me. When my Telecom broadband quota for the month runs out.”
“True”

I overheard that exchange a couple of weeks ago at a friend’s place. It reminded me that although about 12% (www.stats.govt.nz) of NZ households still haven’t managed the switch to broadband, that figure is boosted by those who struggle on low monthly data quotas and end up defaulting to the frustrating  bad-old-days.

Slow download speeds are hell

Forgive me for inserting a data-consuming joke into my post but hey... it's hell for Dial-upperers.

Graphic-heavy web design might go down well in the office where download speeds are lightning quick but are you willing to dismiss as irrelevant a solid slice of your customer base?

Dial up for gumboots

Rural customers make up a large proportion of dial-up die-hards and they often have discretionary income (though many are unwilling to admit it).

It’s easy for web designers (urban-dwellers as they predominantly are) to forget the comparative isolation of their country dwelling audience for whom purchasing or at least purchase decision-making is often an online activity.

So, yes, web page loading speed should still factor in decisions around web page design.

Toot TOOOT! It’s broadband for all!

As the government presses forward with it’s Rural Broadband Initiative and even less of us rely on screaming dial-up down copper wire it’ll be interesting to watch how web designers breathe out and page graphics expand.

In the meantime if a SIGNIFICANT segment of your customers DO currently use dial up to access your website, then it should be optimised for them. If, however, only a small proportion use dial up, then the benefits of slower loading widgets, banners, images, etc… may outweigh the disadvantages.

Alistair McAlpine is an experienced broadcaster and the resident writer/web strategist for internet marketing company Web Success in Wellington, New Zealand.
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