Glitz Goes Nowhere

Making sites easy to use and fast are the top tasks for most site designers today, but the soon-to-be widespread availability of broadband connections will let those same designers flex their creative muscles during the next couple of years, according to a recent report, “Broadband Transforms Interfaces”, by Forrester Research Inc.

The report notes that of 30 site owners interviewed, 40 per cent offer no rich content (streaming audio or video, Java applets, Shockwave and the like); instead they opt to create sites that provide fast performance, ease of use and broad browser compatibility. But Forrester’s research also shows that many of these same developers are ready to take the multimedia plunge – and soon. Twenty per cent of respondents said that they are already beginning to develop with faster connections in mind, with another 54 per cent indicating that they plan to start broadband development sometime during the next two years.

But Forrester warns that even as broadband goes mainstream (entering 52 per cent of on-line households by 2004), designers shouldn’t make the mistake of creating style over substance. The reason, the report states, is that users get a high-speed connection and expect just that – speed. Gratuitous multimedia, even over a high-speed connection, simply gets between users and the information they want. Forrester also notes that cable and DSL connections can bog down when servers and networks get overloaded – once again putting a premium on sites that deliver their content with a minimum of fuss.

Among the report’s suggestions: Find site developers who have experience with software interface design and track your percentage of broadband-using customers to gauge when you should make your move.