Lowest common denominator: Bandwidth

The web can provide great things but maybe your device can’t. We’ve come along way with Internet access both in terms of bandwidth and availability. However, we still need to make choices on how best to serve our users.

Ever-increasing computing power has allowed web browsers to offer us more features whilst running on devices that now fit in our pocket. Sounds great, but, as we all know, there is a catch. If we’re not wired we lack bandwidth. Wireless network technology can not keep up with the evolution in software and the devices they run on.

Think, decide and act

So we step back, but how far? The lowest common denominator? Isn’t that a moving target? If you ask a developer it certainly seems so. Also, the disparity between computing power and network bandwidth is only going to get worse. We need a way to look up the status of a users bandwidth allowance so that we can give the best possible service. A website should be able to lookup the users network type, current available bandwidth for that network and an optional usage cap set for that network type, furthermore, a user should be allowed to set all of these explicitly. However, regardless of knowing the users bandwidth allowance most websites should consider treating low/restricted bandwidth users as first class citizens, most don’t but maybe they should. Choices need to be made. These site owners are often unable to choose or simply unaware and therefore end up failing ‘their’ users by trying to give them everything.

For the lowest common denominator we need to get smart, computers are faster, browsers have more features and devices last longer so we can’t really complain because we really do have the opportunity to make things better. The web has always been about making things work, so don’t break it by failing serve your users.