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Things pop up - if you can stand the shock

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AJ + . column

Liverpool practice Falconer Chester recently asked me to have a look at its website, www. falconerchester. co. uk.

With a fast ADSL modem it opened in record time and, after skipping a home page with animated lines and circles and thumbnails, you are told that the site will open in a separate 'Pop-Up Window'.

Actually, guys, you are in Liverpool, Great Britain. In English, 'pop-up window' (without the Teutonic capitals) is not only perfectly adequate, it is correct.

Whatever, up pops a black window and there is a well-enough organised collection of images of, in the main, subPo-Mo gables and brickwork. You can alter the type size - good. Hold on - that only applies to the opening page.

Because the windows you use are popups you are not only unable to change the size of type, you cannot - and this is surely the only reason to deploy pop-up windows - make them full-screen size.

Anyway, I tried the site out on a standard 56K bps modem and had to wait three minutes for a Shockwave plug-in to download - this, presumably, so that I could watch the aforesaid moving lines and circles. Wait! There was another Shockwave download on its way,12 minutes of it. In your dreams.

Before I left, I clicked on several of the enigmatic letters in rings at the top right.

'N' turned out to stand for news, but since the computer seemed not to have Java loaded, everything froze. I dashed over to the ADSL computer and hit N. There on the left, two-line headings slowly scrolled - actually, flickered - their way up the screen. Argh. Recite after me: 'Just because you can, there is absolutely no reason why you should.' I raced back to the slower computer and, sneakily, it was downloading the second Shockwave player I had stopped earlier. Cheek.

Everything ever written on website design says you must check out your design with a whole range of computers and browsers and modems, and not make your viewers download whatsits in order to view the masterpiece.

Especially not behind people's backs.

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