Browser Bruises Really Hurt...
Wow, I have been using Opera 9.x more frequently for the last week or so -- it's an amazingly powerful browser -- but, goodness grief it's amazing how quickly the User Experience can degrade!
Yes, IE6 is broken, and Firefox 2.x can be a challenge but using Opera is a real eye-opener. Give Safari a whirl on Mac and it gets even better...
It's important to design with all of these issues in mind from the outset, and attempt to deliver a positive User Experience for all. It's far more important for the user to have a positive experience than for everyone to have an identical one.
Much of the creamy goodness of Web 2.0 just doesn't seem to work as it's supposed to in Opera. It's a real eye-opener indeed. These days, a small percentage of your customer base can actually be a large number of people, so it's hard to just write it off as "1 percent of our visitors" when that number can represent thousands or even millions of users or potential customers. I believe the term is "micro-niche" and folks have built very successful products and services just by attending to these 'small' niche markets.
The problem for developers is that customers tend to attribute a "less-than-optimal" user experience with the products, services, and companies that deliver them -- rather than technical limitations, or some other related factor. Budgets and deadlines don't necessarily account for this, and it quickly becomes a lose, lose, lose situation for all involved (i.e.: customer, designer/developer, product/service). Even worse, it's difficult to rectify or fix a bad User Experience after the fact.
Here are some examples... When I Drop a site into my Plum, I have to do it more than once -- even after logging in to my Plum account for that session. I also wind up with a bunch of windows that don't seem to relate to the Drop and things get messy quickly. Even worse, I could not even log in to my Blogger account to create this post in Opera because the login form didn't even show up!
What ever happened to the idea of graceful degradation for browsers that don't work the way things have been designed? Are we missing opportunities by just counting numbers when we segment off and alienate portions of our customer base because of technical limitations or design oversight? I think it's something like seven times more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one happy.
Got thoughts? Got a pulse?