Archive for May, 2008
I have recently completed some tests to see whether a site that our sister company manages has a latency issue and is suffering from being hosted in Europe, rather than here is Australia.
I have to say that when I initially looked at the tests I did think that there would be some effect, having seen delays in the download of some files over the past year or so, however I was not really prepared for the effect that I actually saw.
Firstly to do the test I used Firefox with the web developer toolbar, Firebug installed. Web developer toolbar allows me to switch off caching, so that I could see files as they would be if they were coming to a new user. Firebug includes a “Net” feature that actually let you track when the browser made a request and when it was returned. It also looks at the total time it takes to complete the page.
So the test simply involved setting up a rough duplicate of the home page, hosting that locally, then navigating to both with cache turned off and checking the response time. Note that some of the local files did give errors (which actually resulted in a larger download), these were spacers etc I couldn’t find in the files.
The results….the time to load the page reduced from a massive 36.51 seconds for 300kB, to 14.7 seconds for 350kB when hosted in Australia.
I should also mention that I tested the European hosted page on a high speed connection, and got exactly the same speed. This would seem to indicate that speed on that site is latency limited. My feeling is that this 14.7 seconds for the Australian hosted site is bandwidth dependant (my work struggles at times). I will check this out further and update the posting.
The conclusion: It may seem reasonable to have a large corporate site hosted in a single location worldwide, where content can be tightly controlled. However judging by our tests, the customers user experience will be severely degraded to a point that the site may become unusable.
My advice would be host locally, or if you have to host overseas, check your speeds carefully to ensure you will have returning visitors.
Went to Adobe Air Camp in Brisbane today. This was interesting but I am concerned with the security of the system.
What I had hoped for was a very much sandboxed system that allowed little or no interactivity with the hosting computer. This may sound limiting, but lets face it, as soon as you start allowing calls to the host you run the risk of being in the same boat as ActiveX in IE. It was worrying when they were warning that you could do bad things with it if you felt so inclined!
Having said that it does offer some interesting functionality. I will be interested to see how it goes against Google Gears to be honest, but they are giving it a good go. In particular there seems to be quite a push into the mobile space, which will be interesting. At the moment I can’t see what the applications would possibly be that would require air rather than a direct connection, but you never know. Again it will probably be up against Android and the new ability of Opera to save pages if you so require.
Will I use it? Possibly, but probably a better question would be would I feel safe downloading Air apps and the unfortunate answer to that is no.
To the web design purists, this is a simple question. I no case should you open up a new window, because it breaks the back button functionality and may disorientate your viewers. However in my tests I have come up with a few rules that on our b2b business site ensure that our customers have the experience they want.
My first rule is with pdfs. Most pdf’s on most commercial sites are brochures or white papers that tend to be saved or printed for later consumption. If this is the case then open these up in a new window. That way it seems that our customers actually get less disoriented, and they can decide what to do with the pdf later. Personally I think that there are a few reasons this works. The first is mentioned above, the second is that pdf’s open up in a plug in that doesn’t have the traditional look of a web page and in fact has it’s own menu bar in most browsers. The last reason is that pdf’s aren’t web pages. Usually the only navigation open to you is the back button. So in that way it is easy to get disoriented if it is not isolated.
My second rule is a simple one, and to a large extent it is being superseded with newer technologies, but if you are not using ajax, and want to add in supplementary information, but still allow the main page to be viewed I would recommend a new window or a …wait for it…pop-up window. I know, I know, no one likes pop-ups, but is that really the case. If I ask for more information and it happens to be in a pop-up, I really don’t mind, and that has proven to be the case with our customers too.
I have been working in a b2b marketing position for around 8 years now, and the marketing department has gradually expanded from a single person low level job, to a 3 person department. In all that time however we have had one major issue, how to get feedback from our sales team in a cost effective manner.
Firstly I should explain that the industry I work in sells to electrical wholesalers, switchboards builders etc., and our sales team are all from this industry, so they are ex-electricians etc. Most are not very computer literate, to say the least, although they all have company supplied laptops and an always on data connection, allowing them to receive email at any time.
Over the years we have: -
- Been to all the sales conferences
- Responded to the usual suggestions (buy more shirts)
- Send out a monthly newsletter of what marketing is doing
- Send out emails when something new is available
- Provide detailed instructions on how to use items, if they are complex
- Done surveys to increase participation
- Emphasised in communications that our objective is to reduce work for them
- Requested feedback on programs we have initiated
However, in all this time we get almost no response from the teams, they don’t hand out calendars etc we give them, they don’t follow up on leads from the website, they continually tell us that they are unaware of things that have been in emails, meetings etc. The reason I mention calendars is because I recently did a talk to a group of local wholesalers we have regular contact with, and asked them how they were going with the competition attached to it. 80% hadn’t even received the calendar (and it’s May) but wanted one when I told them about it. On closer inspection we found boxes of calendars where they keep their literature.
The reason for my post is that for the first time I am going to try an email marketing tool to track what our sales team actually look at in our communications, and therefore make sure that if they aren’t looking at something we can give them a nudge to do it. Is this bad? Has anyone else had any luck approaching their sales teams in other ways?
BTW – It’s also good to vent!
Going along the present coarse Apple is unlikely to reach it’s target of 10M iPhone sales in a year. To achieve that they need to add more countries likely to buy iPhones in numbers. Trouble is that there really isn’t any of these unless there is a 3G version. Lets face it, it had tanked in Europe a bit because of this, and the restrictive nature of the contract. My guess is that they are fixing both these issues before they roll out to other countries such as Australia.
I am not sure that the Canadian market is quite the same though. As I understand it Rogers is omnipotent over there, so maybe a wider ranging contract including multiple carriers may not be such an issue.