blogging, user experience

Website Accessibility Around the Globe

As I log onto our WiFi here in the hotel hopefully for the last time I’m reminded of the infrastructure required for a truly global web presence.

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My new skyline – Auckland

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Although my blog is hosted on WordPress I use a number of peripheral services such as Flickr, Soundcloud, YouTube and Google for hosting rich media. Many of which rely on the Amazon Cloud or their own servers in multiple locations to replicate your content. Serving it to you via the closest server in the fastest method possible. Cloud replication of content also ensures there’s a backup (well now that Amazon have been through the 2012/2013 outages) for your content as well.

Hosting your own site on a dedicated server in a single location limits the ability for users to access it from distant time zones. It also opens you up to the threat of downtime. Host your content management system and backups on servers nearby and you also run into the risk of loosing your site completely.

Another point to consider is rendering multiple file resolutions dependant on the browser, PC, tablet or Internet connection that the user is connecting over. This ensures optimum user experience and also spreads server load over multiple files. Rather than everyone trying to download that huge video all at once, those on mobile can access a lighter version.

Subtle UI notes can also hint to those on a phone to save the page for viewing on a faster connection later. It is also good to note that Google penalises pages that load slower than average. I believe from memory this is around the 3 seconds upwards arena. They measure this from various locations, not just over 4G or UFB in a big city.

Tailoring the experience to mobile and limiting heavy files to PC or desktop viewing lets mobile users get to where they want to be. Rarely do we access video content over our phone due to data caps, so ensure your sites prioritises to mobile paths and usage such as finding addresses, browsing product prices, finding contact numbers and getting to those points quickly.

Even better, if your site uses forms or has e-commerce functionality allow transactions started on mobile to be easily picked up from other devices.