Let’s all agree to one fact: There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
Similarly, it takes money to generate any type of content.
Many websites offer free content, relying on ad revenue and other means to pay for their costs and make their content free to the user.
But unless done well, this leads to bad design and is a failing model for many. Search for the numbers and you will see.
The ads are ugly pieces floating here and there and do not fit in well with the content and design.
Sites have lesser content now and more material for ads and other links. They opt for spreading their content across pages, so that they can increase the number of hits, and show more ads.
As a user, you are forced to wade through all this broken glass but, hey, the content is free.
The overall content is what neither of us would like to see, and some users pay a premium so that only the subject matter is shown to them, and not the rubbish.
So as a free user, you are paying a price, in terms of time and bad design and this actually means money. You would pay if you had the money.
So, websites are offloading their costs of hosting, etc. on to you, in a way.
The ultimate price is paid by the user in terms of bad design, security (many websites sell your email address or profile), etc.
The next time you use a free website, notice how they could improve their design, and they make users like you pay for their crap, and how much better the design would be if you paid for it.
But, of course this business model is here to stay, and people want this but I’d like to make you aware that you are paying a price without knowing it, unfortunately.
A freemium model aims to give users the required content or functionality for free, with ads or other means to pay for things, and if they pay a premium, they will only be shown the required content or have that functionality.
Many businesses have adopted this so-called called the freemium model now, but that leads to a compromise in design.
In the past, we had advertisements (ads) that were written in Flash and corporations disabled the Flash plug-in in the browser, with the side-effect of not loading Flash sites properly, but most business sites did not use Flash, so that was ok.
This worked to reduce distractions and users could no longer punch a chimp or shoot someone.
But then gif ads were still prevalent and a few people wrote plugins for the browser that would avoid these too.
These can be avoided too, on a Windows machine:
Get a program called Fiddler (it’s free; do a search for it) that shows requests made from the browser .
See what domains the ads come from (they usually be a different address than you typed/went to).
Locate the hosts file (usually in /windows/system32/drivers/etc).
Open notepad.exe and drag-n-drop this file into it.
Add the offending ad domains in here.
Map them to 127.0.0.1.
Save the hosts file (remember where you store it because in Windows 7, etc., you may not be able to save it in the system folder)
Overwrite the original hosts file with the new one
Load your web-page and you should not see ads from the domains you added.
For doing away with most ads completely, go tohttp://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm and basically they provide you with a hosts file and a batch file to put the hosts file in the right location (it did not work for me, but I was able to use their exhaustive list of domains).
Hope that helps…