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Internet Explorer 7 Released ... and why you should care.

2006-10-20

Microsoft released Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) yesterday. Business owners, whether they have a website or not, need to understand the importance of this release.

As most readers will know, I am a big fan of open source software, and like most web designers have repeatedly banged my head against a virtual wall to create sites and CSS stylesheets that work with IE. If Microsoft decided to adopt web standards, our lives as designers would be easier, websites would be more affordable for businesses, and users would not be inconvenienced or worse, excluded from enjoying features because they are using a web standards-compliant browser on a site designed for IE, or using IE on a site designed to web standards.

All that said, the launch of IE7 is of major importance to business owners for three reasons:

  • First, if you have a website you need to know how it will render when viewed with IE7. Our own website, for example, uses CSS (cascading style sheets) that do not render properly in IE7, causing the menu and content to fall off the background image (it works fine in IE6, Firefox, Opera, etc.).
Any errors need to be corrected soon, as Microsoft is reportedly going to push IE7 to the public through Windows Update. This means that the vast majority of Windows users will migrate / be forced / be surprised to switch to IE7. If your site "breaks" in IE7, it will likely appear broken to the majority of visitors by years' end.
  • Second, if you have a website, you may want to consider adding a blog or other dynamic system (such as the wiki-based content management system we offer - wink!) that includes RSS feeds. RSS - Really Simple Syndication - is a method of communicating updates and changes on a website that is gaining adoption (news feeds, podcasts, etc.), but will become commonplace over the next 12-24 months. Why? Both IE7 (launched yesterday) and Windows Vista (expected in a few months) will both support and, in many ways, promote the use of RSS (called "web feeds" in MS-speak).
Since RSS is a "pull" method versus a "push" system like email, RSS offers more control to the user. It also offers a way to receive information *spam free*. Did that catch you attention? If so, then it will likely also catch the attention of the millions of new IE7 users in the coming months, and the owners of the millions of new computers that will be running Windows Vista starting in 2007. Your site should offer an RSS feed as a method of communicating and building relationships with site visitors.
  • Third, if you don't have a site, now is the time to get one. Between the benefits of RSS, the ease of managing and adding content with modern CMS (content management system) websites, and the behavioural shift away from phone directories to the use of "local search" features by consumers to find local merchants and service providers, a website featuring original content that is regularly updated needs to be an important part of your marketing mix.

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Russ Jackman, Internet Advisor
Russ Jackman is the principal of Internet Advisor, a web design and internet marketing firm located in St. Thomas, Ontario.

The concept of the "Internet Advisor" is that the designer becomes a partner or trusted consultant, who can simply provide advice and direction, completely implement a solution from start to end, or any degree in between. This insures that the strengths of a client are utilized, to minimize the investment required and maximize the benefits to their organization.

Site last updated May 07, 2018, at 12:37 PM

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