Multimedia Applications: Give Users a Choice

Show me an ounce of excitement… just an ounce. Too many web site developers and marketers stifle their creative energies due to the perceived barriers of offering newer technologies. They think more about what they can’t or shouldn’t do than what’s possible: “My customers aren’t technically savvy,” or “Some of our customers may not be able to view that.”

The fact is, if you aren’t investigating and/or offering high-end solutions, your competitors are. Remember to offer these solutions to your customers, but don’t force them on your customers.

Creating an Experience

Many companies have already grasped newer rich media technologies, and organizations such as Emerging Interest are helping to educate the market on rich media opportunities and capabilities that are available. From NYC2012 to Broadway’s Phantom of the Opera, the creation of active online experiences rather than passive informational resources is in full swing.

Creating an engaging online experience does not always have to be hindered by download-time, plug-in, or compatibility issues. There are many basic techniques that allow for detection of a user’s technology (e.g., browser, platform, etc.) and for the user to be directed to a version of the web site that is best equipped for his or her computer’s capabilities.

Furthermore, you can always put the power back into the user’s hands by offering the option of high band versus low band. Respect the fact that just because the user’s computer may have the hardware or connection speed to handle your kick-ass application, it doesn’t mean the user wants to sit and wait for it to load every time he or she visits your site.

Multimedia applications on the web are quickly becoming more common every day, and web users are becoming accustomed to what’s available. Marketers must keep a close eye on the newer technologies and actively seek to integrate them into their overall web presence.

Many of the newer technologies emerging on the web today are not only increasing web functionality and improving the average web user’s experience, but they are also eliminating many of the barriers that have limited the use of these enhancements by the general web public.

TrueSpectra, for example, is making a great impact on the way retailers sell merchandise over the web by offering a dynamic imaging platform. In short, it allows for users at all connection speeds to zoom in and out of products and colorize images without plug-ins or broadband connection speed.

Remember Who’s in Charge

While I lean toward pushing the limits, I do recognize those who are in charge: the customers. The web is about choice. Users want the option to see what they want, when they want, in the format they prefer.

Users might like the option of seeing a 360-degree view of the interior of a new Mercedes or zooming in on the fabric of a shirt they want to buy. Realize that some users will seek the option to utilize these features and others won’t. No one wants to be forced into having to use features that merely serve as bandwidth brainteasers.

This is where many web sites have failed miserably (e.g., the original boo.com). boo.com failed to provide these features as a choice, forcing users to have the plug-ins, connection speed, or other functions necessary to utilize its web offerings. As a web consumer and as an Internet professional, I would always recommend pro-choice!

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