INQUIRING MINDS: Will the new browsers affect my Web site?

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fb_subject: Question for IM12 fb_yname: What is your name?: What is your email address?: Where do you work?: Do you have a question for Inquring Minds? Let us know and keep your browser pointed here to find an answer. Netscape and Microsoft are releasing new browsers with all sorts of new features. As a marketer with a Web site, should I care? What should I do about it?

For the moment, wait. The install base for these products is very limited right now, especially since Microsoft's Internet Explorer 4.0 won't be fully released until the end of the month at the earliest.

But just because your audience would be small today doesn't mean that it's going to stay that way.

It's a good time to talk to your developers and the rest of your staff about implementing some new features. What sort of use could you make of rich media or dynamic HTML? How would those features fit into your business plans?

Recently, we looked at pricing for some of these features in our Web Price Index.

Some of the new features are meant to make designers' lives easier by giving them more and better control over how a Web page looks on screen. This will make it easier for you to translate existing documents such as catalogs or pamphlets to the Web.

However, if you want to go beyond repurposing your content, Netscape's Communicator and IE will give you a lot of options. The new browsers will be able to create a more dynamic and interactive environment for visitors to your site.

They'll also give you the ability to develop more enticing ways to showcase your products or services than you can now.

The best part is that these solutions aren't all high-bandwidth. By making more use of Java, JavaScript and Dynamic HTML, sites can develop better-looking features without some of the long download times of the past.

Still, there are compatibility issues here. Microsoft and Netscape are battling for control of the browser market. One result is that their browsers don't operate quite the same way, and some features might work on one browser and not the other. And if you use too many new bells and whistles, people who haven't updated their software might get left behind.

Just because they're not the most tech-oriented people on the most tweaked systems doesn't mean that they're not your customers, too.

So discuss the possibilities with your developer and be ready to take whatever actions you deem necessary. More and more people will be able to take advantage of these features, and it might be to your advantage to have a site using some of the cooler new capabilities -- once the audience is there.

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