Score: Old Browsers 1.
New Browsers 0.

Log on to www.dionysus.com.au and the first screen you see is a text one saying, Welcome ..please wait a minute while we detect your browser. Unfortunately the page then does a refresh and doesn't give you time to read the rest of the text on it. But what the hell, the result is that you're then offered an optimized site for your version of your browser . I tried it with Netscape 4, (it crashed but then N4 does on other sites too) and Netscape 2, and IE 3, all of which had slight formatting differences, but all of them looking clean and attractive. Watching the directories in the URL line, there's separate ones set up for N(etscape)20, N30, and IE3 and when I went back to the opening screen and opened the page, I got the following text message which explains that all this variation is due to ....JavaScript.

"If you are using Netscape 1.0 or MS Internet Explorer 1.0 or 2.0, or another browser which does not support JavaScript, and you are behind a firewall which doesn't allow "client pull", nothing will load automatically... We suggest upgrading to Netscape 3.0, but if you don't wish to do that now, click here to view the simplest version of the Dionysus Australia Web Site.

If you're using Netscape 2.00 or 2.01, especially on a Unix system, you may have received a JavaScript error on this page. This is due to these versions of Netscape having problems with JavaScript, and unfortunately there's nothing we can do. We suggest downloading the latest version of
Netscape, or viewing the simplest version of this web site.

In the event that we have missed a bug and none of these scenarious
(sic) cover your situation, please mail us and let us know. Here are some quick links to the different versions of the Dionysus web site:

Netscape 3.0 and MSIE 3.0 Enhanced version
Netscape 2.02 compatible (partially enhanced) version
The simplest, no frames & no frills version"

The idea of optimizing for each browser is great, and if you are determined not to turn anyone away from your site, you have only two choices. Simplify the design so it works on everyone's screen or build multiple versions of it. Even with the newer browsers the site lets you select Turn off Frames and the content still looks good. So what's gained been gained with all that JavaScript and client pull?

Well there's some typically awful background midi music that a JavaScript loads (quickly), with a small arrow marking your selection. The music warbles away as you browse, but the Classical Mozart is awful, the Moods piece just a little better than the Jazz, and choosing None soon seemed like a good idea. When I did and switched pages the music started again un-asked. It happened in Netscape 4 and IE 3.
So if you are going to turn it off what do you need ....



(Hey two error messages ..cool, from IE3 while changing pages with music turned off)

I'm retyping this paragraph because I lost the previous version with a major crash on the site. If you Write and Surf at the same time, always Ctrl-S! I'd chosen some mixed dozens and a case of red to see how the ordering system worked ( it looks a bit complicated, lots of screens to get through) and I then clicked on 'here' to get a shipping total and lost the lot, a quick IE error message and a major Win95 crash. Is all this trying to tell me something about Dionysus? About Java?

With the crash, I'd also lost my description of the content, so here it goes again, abbreviated (Ctrl-S) ... mainly Victorian wines, twenty or so winery profiles that range from a few lines to long pages, most wines listed as 'in stock', linked to pages with description and an Amazon.com reader contribution section that allows you to add your own descriptions of the wines and read others.(Ctrl-S) I couldn't find any comments but as the site grows this should add some 'wine buff' interactivity. Icon graphics are attractive, mostly photographic (looking a bit like they've come from Photo-Disc), and the 60s retro logo design is at odds with the rest of the site. The front page is cluttered up with a Link Exchange banner that undoes the clean page look (why are the LE banners always so awful?).(Ctrl-S)

As Dionysus Director Justin Deeley explained in last weeks SMH interview with Sue Lowe, the Dionysus site is an offshoot of their (Justin and Rob Wells et al) Web design company, Galileo Publishing Pty. Ltd. That makes sense of the use of all the versions, and the JavaScript bells and whistles. If you can't show off on your own site (especially when you're paying for it) who can.

My advice... if you want to look at Dionysus Australia, choose the no frills version. FH
Gimme a drink Bailey...Ctrl-S.

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