Slow loading pages are site killers. Splash screens as well. Most webmasters appear to know such things. And most know better than to demand download of some plug in to view their site. Still, many are breaking other rules as if unaware even of their existence. The cost in doing so is incalculable, as it amounts to what visitors might have bought had they lingered for a time.
I find following rules broken routinely. And it continues to puzzle me. It is difficult to believe anybody who has put together a website is unaware of these rules. If they are aware of them, and break them, this makes even less sense. Whatever case, here they are.
What's In This For Me?
When a visitor hits your site, there is no thought of you, your site, or how hard you worked to put it all together. All that matters is above question. And you have only a few seconds in which to answer it to your visitor's satisfaction.
So what's with giant logo up top that fills half first screen? Or that blinding, bright red slogan sprawled across width of page? What's with that blue and purple thing to right whirling like crazy?
Such things to do not answer your visitor's question. In fact they send mouse cursor scurrying to hover over Back button.
About Table Width
One that's becoming a favorite of mine is ...
This site is best viewed with your browser window adjusted to 800 x 600 pixels.
Hey, if I've got a horizontal scroll bar, I know this is so. Why waste valuable space belaboring obvious? And if you think I'm going to readjust my window dimensions to accommodate you, you're out of your mind.
And what about those WebTV viewers? 12 million, maybe. What are they supposed to adjust? And of those 24 million AOL members who use AOL browser, what magic button do they press to increase maximum of 585 pixels to your "desired" setting?
As recently as January, 2001, TheCounter.Com reported 7% of surfers are still using 640 pixel monitors. Do you expect these people to try a hammer or something?
Your site is not about you or what you want. It's all about your visitors and what they want. Provided you want to sell, that is.
A Fast, Easy Read Is What It's All About
While other factors of your website matter a great deal, nothing matters more that providing pages that are quick and easy to read. Picture a fellow standing in a crowded subway car, bumped and joggled this way and that, trying to read evening paper. How much patience does he have with copy difficult to follow?
The same is true of your visitors. Can you draw them past your headline? Do your sub-headings grab attention? Will one of them slow your visitor long enough to start reading that body copy you so laboriously crafted?
If they do, they won't stay long with line lengths greater than 65 characters. Give me five bucks for every site I've seen bust this rule, and I can afford to take next couple of years off!
New Happenings Don't Change Old Rules
Sure, Web is new. But some things don't change. Parents and teachers have been searching frantically for over a hundred years for better ways to teach kids how to read. Why? Because better kids read, better they do in school. Drop accumulated research into lake of your choice and watch water level rise ominously.