Lynx Enhanced

We seem to be winning this war. It used to be much more common than it is today to see little tags saying a site was "netscape enhanced" or "optimized for IE". What this meant, of course, is that the site had been designed so as to exclude people not using the preferred browser.

Still, it does still happen. And worse things happen, like Java or JavaScript dependencies that they don't even warn you about.

It's especially annoying because many of the things that make sites exclusionary are pointless. Useless flash, often in place of content. And most of the rest of the time, exlusionary features are being used in an attempt to micro-manage the presentation -- in complete ignorance of the screen size and resolution, color depth, and window size that the site is being viewed at. Or, for that matter, the eyesight of the viewer.

On the web, content is king. People come to web sites looking for something. One strong indicator of this is the high percentage of visits to sites that come via search engines. (Anybody have a pointer to a study on this? I can't find any of the ones I remember seeing at the moment. I'd like to quote an actual number and cite a source.)

And yet most web designers put most of their time and resources into flash. This is worse than just useless -- it's counterproductive. It makes sites harder to navigate and slower to access. It harms everybody.

Lynx, as many of you must know, is a text-based browser. It can run on a character cell terminal, in an xterm, on a DOS machine console. It's small, simple, very fast, and rather portable. It's easy to use. It also doesn't support graphics (though it can download files of any type and send them to an appropriate viewer, if you have one on your system).

(There are occasional examples of pages that make really good use of features that aren't widely supported. Sometimes that's the right choice -- either the benefit to the few who can see it is so great that it's worth it, or the audience for the site is limited so that you know you aren't excluding anybody (the Internet Explorer help site, for example, probably shouldn't be criticized too severely for using IE-specific constructs). I've also seen a few worthwhile things done with Java -- there's a financial planning site that adjusts graphs on-screen as you move sliders describing your savings rate, for example. Even when there are real benefits being gained, these sites are excluding a large part of their potential audience. Is it really worth it?)

So, what enhances the experience of a web site for a Lynx user? Seems to me the thing that makes the most difference to the experience of a web site for any user is the quality and organization of the content. So, by claiming to be "Lynx Enhanced", I'm saying that I've made an effort to actually have something here, and to make that something reasonable easy to locate and use.

A Few Links

Last modified .
David Dyer-Bennet