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Contact Us Page Killers

The bottom line of today's Golden Nugget is:
Don't require JavaScript or Flash or Java to make your Contact Us form work. You are potentially missing out on a lot of visitors who may have tried to reach you, but couldn't because of technology limitations.

Why did we start this Nugget with the "bottom line?" Because the explanation is a little history lesson that might not interest you. Keep reading if you would like to have a well rounded understanding of why JavaScript/Flash/Java are all bad for your Contact Us form.

Every few days a new computerized device is released; new computers, new cell phones, new GPS, new portable gizmos of some type that can connect to the internet.

Even though the hardware changes, the underlying programming languages of the internet haven't changed much in several years.

Common programming languages are:
* JavaScript
* Flash Actionscript
* Microsoft .net
* Java
* ColdFusion
* WebDNA
* Ruby

As computers become faster, the web programmers are able to create new features using the same languages.

HTML is not listed above because technically it's not a "programming" language; rather, it's a "markup language" that controls how we see the web page through the web browsers. It doesn't process high level logical code like the other do.

There is an international organization, called the World Wide Web Consortium, that guides the development of the next version of HTML. As of 2011 we are eagerly awaiting the final version of HTML 5 to be approved. It's been in development since 2004. The goal of HTML 5 is to study contemporary HTML implementations and find easier ways to deploy content.

Those "easier ways" include taking functions from some of the other programming languages listed above and build them into HTML functionality. Why should we need the Flash program to play video in a web browser? We shouldn't, so that function is not part of HTML5. Why should we need JavaScript to control when to change a color or photo on the web page? Again, we shouldn't so that feature is now built into HTML 5 and CSS3.

Some of HTML 5 features were forced into adoption because not every computer can run all of the languages listed above. Even though Java can run on any computer, you usually need a faster machine with more memory. JavaScript is not always available either, or some people simply turn JavaScript off.

You should never build a website that requires additional plug-ins or scripts because there will always be a portion of your audience that is unable or unwilling to install or turn on those extra features.

Fancy websites that rely heavily on Flash, Java and JavaScript are very common problems today. Flash does not work in the 64-bit version of IE, nor on portable Apple devices (iPods, iPhones, iPads). Java will have trouble working if the computer does not have the correct version installed. JavaScript is often times turned off for security reasons.

So, the bottom line, as stated above, is that you should not require these technologies in order for your website to function. There should always be an alternative available, which means you might need to double program your website (i.e. create a "non Flash version" or a "non Java version").

It is especially important that you not use these technologies for your Contact Us form page. Many customers will not be able to contact you.
AT: 04/14/2011 02:00:14 PM   LINK TO THIS GOLD NUGGET
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