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That's Rich!

With faster Internet connections, rich media is making a comeback. Should you add it to your Web site?

This story appears in the May 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Rich media made some waves back in the mid- to late '90s, when e-tailers first deployed the technology to boost conversion rates. It promised to provide customers with a clearer, more exciting way to view products and to help close the sale. But with the technology too advanced for most Internet connections, e-tailers saw customers leaving sites because the graphics took too long to load.

Rich media (also called dynamic imaging) has made a comeback among e-tailers as DSL and cable modem subscribers have grown. Many feature technologies that enable viewers to zoom in on images to see product details, spin product photos to view items from all sides, or render different colors. Consulting firm The E-tailing Group released a fourth-quarter 2003 "Mystery Shopping" survey, which points to rich media's rise in popularity: 13 percent of the sites surveyed had a color-rendering feature in 2003, up from 9 percent in 2002.

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