Guilty Until Proven Innocent

As you know, ungentle reader, I favor making your Web site check the user’s Web browser to make sure it supports JavaScript, cookies, Flash, and all the assorted plugins that your designers and developers fawn over at any given time. However, I’m not in favor of the methodology used by Miller Genuine Draft 64’s Web site.

When you initially hit the site, it flashes on the screen an error message while the site runs its checks:

Instinctive accusation?  Did QA actually build this site?
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After a moment, the page displays and does an age check that all liquor sites do:

The screen if you're set up and lucky enough to get redirected
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This visible error message displays on the screen when the error condition does not exist long enough for the user to read it. As a matter of fact, if the redirection or redisplay fails, this error message will remain the only communication CoorsSaabMiller has with you. That is, this message can display to users who use their default browser settings and don’t know how to turn on JavaScript (which is already on) or cookies (which are already on).

There are right ways and wrong ways to do this. Preparing and displaying an error message just in case isn’t the right way.

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