Required Browser Plugins

Why, oh why, does your promotion or Web site require a special browser plug in? If you can avoid requiring a bit of gee-whizzery from an ActiveX control or special plugin, you ought to avoid them, as security conscious users (or those who are not security conscious but pretend to be so) won’t download them.

For example, I’ve noticed that the Web sites for HGTV and DIY require an XML plug in sometimes. A current example of this is the Great Garage Giveaway 2008 promotion.

Now, a quick note if you click through to see it: the site prompts for this download only most of the time (and was the inspiration for my post about testing behind load balancers), so if you don’t get it right away when browsing in IE, try again.

Here’s the prompt for the download:

Prompt to download MSXML 3.0 SP9
Click here for full size

I’m not clear why this is required only on certain page loads. As I mentioned, this plugin isn’t required every time you visit the site, so I have to wonder if it’s really required at all. I hope the only thing that kept me from winning the HGTV Dream Home 2008 was that my daily entry submissions failed.

If you don’t download the plugin, every time you click something on the field, be it a text box to set focus, a radio button to set it, or a button to actually submit it, the application opens a smaller window that has the URL of a recent Web page you’ve visited, but nothing else:

A recent site I visited
Click for full size

Seriously unfunny behavior.

I’ve also seen Web sites that asked for particular flavors of viewers to play embedded media files even though a compatible media player was installed and would play the video and other stupidities.

Seriously, guys, knock this stupid stuff off. It makes your sites look like security risks and will drive some people off. Not me, of course, because I wanted to win that house.



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