The basic ideas behind web design are centered on the visual appeal of the site. Catchy graphics and high-tech animation effects are used to make visitors ooh and ahh. Many designers, especially those just starting out, forget there are people out there that do not have the latest, greatest hardware or software. All the effort to make a visually appealing site just serves to complicate the experience of some visitors. For some visitors to a site, the high tech visuals just get in the way. Interminable download delays for slow connections; error messages when user hardware or software is incompatible with special effects or blank spaces in place of images encourage visitors to leave and stay away. What good is a website with no visitors?
Another major consideration is the use of hand-held devices for internet access. Smart phones have relatively small screens and some fancy graphics may not translate well to the small screens. Also a concern is the font size. A tiny font that looks OK on a 15 inch monitor may look like a solid line on a 2 ½ inch screen. As much as possible, developers should test their work on a variety of devices, browsers and screen readers. Most will be surprised at the problems that are revealed by this testing. The problems are easily corrected by adding specific style sheets and browser detection scripts to the sites.
The result of a properly tested and multi-platform optimized web site will be a larger group of loyal visitors. In many cases, testing and making a site accessible to more people takes more time and effort that the original design stages. Not all sites offer content or products for everyone and understanding the target audience is very important to the designer. If a site is simply a place for family members to share photos and vacation stories, the extra work is not justified. If a site can expect an international audience with accessibility-challenged members the extra work is justified.