You Are Not In Control

If you are used to print design and traditional advertising, marketing online can be a bit of a rude shock.

You are not in control.

At least not as much as you are in the off-line world, where you can control exactly what your marketing piece looks like.

Did you know that when someone goes to a web page, their computer doesn't receive a copy of that page? It receives instructions on how to build that page on their screen. And that means how it looks on their screen is dependent on the computer, browser, and monitor.

We have repeatedly shocked print designers and artists by making them look at a page on different computers. It is amazing how different it can look on different screens.

Here are some of the biggest, most common differences:

1. Fonts. Any text on the page can only be displayed in fonts which are installed on the computer. The page may look great in Garamond, but if the computer doesn't have it, the browser will use a different font.

2. Monitor size and resolution. The larger the monitor size, the larger the page will display. The higher the monitor resolution, the smaller the page will display. The horizontal resolution determines how wide or narrow the page displays. The vertical resolution determines how much of the page displays without having to scroll down.

3. Color accuracy. There is no universal standard to guarantee that a monitor will faithfully display the color you intended. While this has improved over the years, it is still an issue, particularly between Apple computers and PC's.

4. Browsers. Theoretically, all browsers such as Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari, should display a page exactly the same. Theoretically. In practice differences can be significant. This is particularly true with older versions of a browser such as Internet Explorer 6, which does not correct display the preferred image file type (.png file) if it has a transparent background.

4. Software. Many web pages require add-ons such as Flash or Javascript. Not all computers have them or have the latest versions. This is most dramatic with the iPhone - which won't display Flash files, by far the most common format for anything that moves (youTube videos are in Flash, for example).

The usual answer to all this is compromise. For example, we'll use Flash for menus, slideshows, motion effects and videos, because 98% of all computers have it installed, and Flash videos load quickly, especially in recent versions of most browsers. But we also include text links in the site footer so iPhone users will still be able to navigate the website.

More about this tomorrow, in regards to monitor size and resolution.

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