“Explore the Taj Mahal” Web site, which is dedicated to the preservation of the Taj Mahal, has long taken advantage of Apple’s QuickTime and QuickTime VR technology — now it’s using Flash, as well. The site now uses Flash, narrated “mini-movies,” and 360-degree panoramic photography (Java and/or QuickTime) to present an online virtual tour of the monument.
During the first 16 months of its existence, the site was entirely QuickTime based. During that time, they found that 85 percent of their home page arrivals didn’t have QuickTime, and that around 25 percent of those did go onto Apple’s QuickTime download page, Webmaster William Donelson told MacCentral.
“Whether they actually got it or not, we don’t know,” he said. “This number of QT owners slowly declined. When QT 5 came out, and the download was 6-9MB, we found that the number of visitors arriving with QT installed dropped down to around 9 percent. This meant that visitors were just going away. We made the decision at that time to convert to Macromedia Flash for the main body of the site, with QuickTime and Java (PTviewer/Helmut Dersch) for panoramic playback.”
The new site was up in Flash format, at least in a preliminary form, just before Christmas. They’ve now had the site “clean, fast and functional” for a couple of months now, with around 97 percent of visitors already having Flash, and around 95 percent actually going into the site for a look around, Donelson said. The site has been optimized for 56k modem owners “as best we can considering the nature of the contents,” he added. The raw visitor numbers to the Taj Mahal site have almost doubled since before Christmas, as well, Donelson said.
Meanwhile, the site has had to abandon its “donationware” approach, as almost no one paid, he added. In the last two weeks, they’re tried a “Paid Entry” scheme. The site offers some “free preview” viewpoint locations, mostly with the Taj monument and platform “visible in the distance,” then charging US$1 to $2 for entry to the good stuff, such as the monument, the roof, minaret, etc.