Sometimes simple is best

I have often avoided fancy effects and such in favor of simplicity. My list of compatibility issues does not need one more addition to make development more complicated. The question that always arises is, “does the effect enhance the site enough to justify more time and money?” Just lately I was reminded again that the answer is often “no”—sometimes simple is best.

Starting with fancy

While working on the new Omni product page for Baron Services, I thought it a perfect candidate for the “lightbox” effect—you know, the screen goes dark and a small, inset window appears with an enlarged image, video, or other content. I set up the page and it was beautiful. It even tested well in all the major browsers: Firefox, Internet Explorer (versions 6 through 8), Safari, and Opera. However, one person at Baron Services was having trouble, and I could not reproduce the issue.

Simple solution

It turned out that the anomaly was Internet Explorer 8 running on 64-bit Windows Vista, and I could not figure out what was going wrong (I don’t have 64-bit Windows Vista to test). We had two choices: spend time and money trying to make the “fancy” version work, or drop back to a simplified, yet usable version in favor of wider compatibility. It was an easy decision—simple won by far, and it was not only a matter of budget. We needed to get a working version out quickly, so time was an important factor as well.

The final version incorporates a simple browser pop-up window so that the user still gets the feeling that they do not really leave the page, much like lightbox. No, it’s not quite as fancy, but it works and it launched on time and within budget. That makes both the users and my client happy.