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How accessible should products be to users who don't use modern technologies?

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#1 BenW

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 10:15 AM

How accessible should websites and programs be to users who can't or won't use modern technologies?

 

On the one hand, the more users you exclude from using something, the fewer potential users you have.

 

But making your product accessible for people who refuse to upgrade to modern tech is a lot more work, and may not be worthwhile in terms of the number of additional users it brings in.

 

Which is more important? Where do you draw the line?

 

(prompted by this thread about JS on websites.)


Edited by BenW, 31 January 2013 - 10:16 AM.

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#2 gregwarner

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 10:58 AM

I think there is definitely a time to cut off the older technologies and refuse to support them anymore. It's insane to think we'll always support every legacy system ever devised for the rest of time. Having to support older technologies can sometimes hold back progress, whereas it would be much easier to cut off the old and focus the resources that would have gone to that toward newer advancements instead. There is a balance to be had, but I tend to lean more on the side of driving forward rather than holding back.

But I definitely think there should always be legacy support going back at least one major version, maybe two. For instance, my big rant about Windows 8 is that it doesn't offer the traditional Start menu, but back when Windows 95 was released, you had the option of using the new Start menu, or reverting back to the old Program Manager. Obviously I don't expect Program Manager to be supported in Windows 8, but for those in the business world who don't have the time to retrain their employees, it would be simpler to switch their Windows 8 computers into legacy mode for a more traditional interface.

As far as web stuff goes, I can't imagine browsing without JS enabled, yet still people do it. I think we're so far past the point of considering users with outdated browsers that JS isn't even really an important issue anymore; pretty much everybody has it. A few years ago, I would've expected sites to provide a non-JS version, but, I think that ship has sailed. JS is everywhere by default, and too many modern web innovations rely on it, so it would be detrimental to some websites to have to provide a non-JS version. People running with JS disabled can always turn it on for the few cases where it's absolutely necessary.

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#3 LBProgrammer

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 11:30 AM

I think it really depends on what kind of end user you are directing your content to. If you are running a site the sells knitting a sewing supplies you might have an older clientele with older computers and it might make a lot of sense for your site to be simple and compatible to a large array of browsers. Now if you are developing a site for a new movie or hip product, exclude those old foggies and bring use all the tools available to make the the content stand apart. So basically know your user and tailor your code appropriately.

Apologies to anyone who might knit on this forum and is under 60 years old.

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#4 Orjan

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 03:02 PM

Knitting is huge in the 20's and 30's as well, shame on you. 

 

I think that IE8 should be supported, but nothing older... and if it works in IE8 and a up-to-date Firefox, Chrome and Safari, then the site should be fine.


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#5 BlackRabbit

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 08:35 PM

Well, I would say is easier for the user to keep up-to-date since, for instance, Firefox is free and doesn't need the latest technology to run.

In the other hand, supporting older techs is not that easy for a developer, so if they can do it and won't why would you do it? obvious answer is good money, if there is money it could make the effort worth but if there isn't I will just say they are just trolling you, making you do things for they without bringing anything to the table.

It's easy to comply, also it's easy to upgrade your browser.



#6 WingedPanther73

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 08:04 AM

A huge consideration is who your target audience is. If you are targetting home users, then upgrading browsers and such is easy, but upgrading the OS is hard. On the other hand, larger corporations can often drop $10,000 on a new server without blinking, but may not be able to upgrade their version of IE.

 

For quite a while, I was having to support IE6 with a web product I developed. When IE8 came out, and IE6 dropped to a minority of corporate browsers, I was finally able to officially drop support for it. My company is looking at what we have to do to support Windows 8, while realizing that many companies will refuse to upgrade to it for a while.


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#7 Orjan

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 08:09 AM

WingedPanther, can you agree with me that supporting IE8 but nothing older is generally speaking a pretty good choice at the present time?


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#8 BenW

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 08:13 AM

I'm always surprised at the number of college age (18-22ish) users who refuse to use newer technology, without any real justification for it. Typically it's the more technical minded ones who won't upgrade, which is even stranger. On another forum I occasionally post at, I frequently find myself arguing the point with a couple of programmers who utterly refuse to use JS in their browser for general web use, and believe sites should be designed to accommodate that.

 

My view is that we have the technology and we should use it, although I have to admit I stuck with IE6 far longer than anyone else I know, because I didn't like IE7 or 8m and wasn't a fan of Firefox at the time.


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#9 WingedPanther73

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 08:15 AM

The last time I checked (about 6 months ago), for corporate customers you want to support IE7 and IE8, but nothing older. It always takes longer than you would think for corporations to adopt new technologies. When IE8 was released, there was still a significant amount of corporate IE6 users. It took MS dropping support for IE6 to finally kill it off.


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#10 LBProgrammer

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 11:37 AM

obvious answer is good money

This definitely is the key, if client has the money it's well worth it. I ran into this example just yesterday when I was out and about in the city and decided I needed new shoes. I love New Balance, went to their site on my android phone to find a re-seller near by and no love from their web site. It was built for mobile but not tested links didn't work photos didn't show up. Needless to say I never bought shoes that day, they effectively lost a sale. Now New balance will still get my money cause I love the shoes but another customer might buy Nike instead. This is absolutely where compatibility counts and the customer should pay for that development.
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#11 Yannbane

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 12:14 PM

Of course, this is very relevant as well: https://www.gnu.org/...cript-trap.html.

My opinion is that websites should start relying more and more on CSS instead of JS.

CSS is not a programming language, and therefore, cannot really be "non-free". It's very easily editable and understood by more people.

Edited by Yannbane, 25 February 2013 - 12:17 PM.

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#12 lespauled

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 12:52 PM

It all comes down to your target audience.  If you are attracting an older crowd, they may still be running IE6.  But one thing you can do, if you originally wrote a website that supports older browsers, etc.  Just keep the original website, and create a catch-all that directs the user to the best suited website for their browser.

 

Of course, if it's a new website, I wouldn't waste time being backwards compatible....unless my target audience was.......


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