Bruce Lawson's Wealthy Western Web: Where's Your Next Customer's Coming From?

The actual title: World Wide Web, Not Wealthy Western Web, by Bruce Lawson. But the "Wealthy Western Web" is such a brilliant quote, I can't let that go. I used it recently in a lightening talk and it's such a perfect phrase which embodies the very mistakes that many devs succumb to.

Websites can be made to better serve the whole world. - Bruce Lawson.

Bruce Lawson, formerly of Opera, the once European browser with 350M users, penned two back to back pieces for Smashing Magazine, making studied and researched arguments as to why developing for the most common (not lowest) denominator will by default get you more customers. What that means? Making sure you create web products that can be connected to and loaded by users in emerging markets as well as the Western ones. Doing that simply creates additional commerce or opportunities for more commerce.
And these users from said emerging markets are here. I spoke of a CNN piece I watched discussing how an Indian billionaire was investing to put Indians on mobile broadband:

Mukesh Ambani then added, the following:

Where's Your Next Customer's Coming From? Digging deeper, you start to look @ the greater issues set around a trove of data: from world demographics, to hardware experience, to individual income and even penetration - all having broad and very current effects.

We have to make sure the the web works better on low spec devices - Bruce Lawson

In his piece, Bruce discusses a well detailed case of a failed NY dating business which suddenly flourished overseas, and specifically in India as signups there were dwarfing any interest in NY. I heard him talk about this some time back, only to personally run into 2 devs who were in the midst of the same situation: 2 education startups suddenly mired in issues because of sudden interest from overseas students, and the challenges from sites inaccessible due in part to the poor networks their users were on.

Where's Your Next Customer's Coming From?

Pat Meenan of the Google Chrome team spoke of some of these very issues, highlighting that Google search in a few territories was a much lighter experience with no javascript, acknowledging it's need due to poor networks. There's a reason proxy browsers have a level of popularity - a mix of convenience and need. I listened to Nils K├Ârber of ROAM expound how data was a luxury in Africa, and proxy browsers like Opera (and it's suite if data saving apps) do just that - save the data, and some go as far as keeping images turned off.

I would urge that you head over and read both pieces by Bruce and parse all the details and data that he has wonderfully shared with us all, and possibly gain a new perspective on development for your next 1B users.

World Wide Web, Not Wealthy Western Web (pt1)

World Wide Web, Not Wealthy Western Web (pt2)

bonus: Linking the conference where I saw a version of the original talk live @ Velocity Conference.