You may be eager to update your online store to use the latest technology. By doing so, however, you just might be crippling your customer base.
With all the latest and greatest Web features, browsers are constantly needing to be updated to keep pace. The problem with that, though, is that online shoppers might not be ready for these new bells and whistles. Keep this in mind when introducing new technology to your website.
Just as requiring Flash installation back when it wasn’t a standard impeded the shopping experience, requiring an upgrade that could take more than – well, any amount of time, really – is a good way to lose business to competitors.
Laugh all you want, but I still strive to make websites function with IE6 – because stats for many clients show that a decent percentage of shoppers are still running the older browser, especially those overseas. While certain graphic formats, such as PNG, may render a bit differently, the core experience is retained. Sure, I’m working at phasing out IE6 configurations on new site launches, but only because there are security elements required for stores to pass PA-DSS compliancy tests. Still, any online store should be able to render properly at least two versions back on most browsers.
Then, there’s accessibility software, such as JAWS, utilized by the blind and visually impaired. Yes, I know it’s personal (my husband can’t see a thing and uses screenreading software on his laptop), but you need to recognize that there are millions of blind and low-vision folks surfing the web. Wouldn’t it be great if those customers didn’t have to rely on family or someone sighted because they can’t shop your store for a gift for their wife or children? As more and more sites are configured not to run in previous browser versions, the more sites there are which Joe cannot navigate. Whenever this happens, it requires a major upgrade in the screen reading software (and trust me, it isn’t cheap). All this, because some sites (and not techie ones) think it’s necessary to use the same functionality as, say, a financial institution.
Online shoppers, like the rest of us, don’t like fixing what isn’t broken. Ask around, and you’ll find most of them hate being forced to upgrade or install software just to reach a web site when a good portion of the others they visit load just fine. Not all newer site designs are going to look stellar in 3-year-old environments, but they should still be shopable.
Keep in mind that many computer users run what was already installed on the system the day they brought it home. Unless someone they know presses them to upgrade, they often leave the system as it was configured from the factory. So, if that means forgoing some “sleek” updates, which can, most of the time, be done by other means anyway, then so be it. Bash Amazon all you want, but that site loads in a wide variety of versions of browsers.
By the way, as I type this, I’m struggling to start an online chat with big tech company. Apparently none of the browsers I’m running are the right flavor. Guess I gotta pick up the phone…