When I was in sixth grade, there was this big goon in my class
who terrorized all the kids, especially the small ones. His
favorite trick was to grab the cap off my head (and in a -25
degree Canadian winter, this was not as amusing as it sounds).
He'd dangle it just out of my grasp; now bringing it
tantalizingly close; now snatching it away.
Sometimes, I just gave up and went home without it.
Well, today that bully is still following me around. Only now,
he's changed shapes and multiplied. 21st century bullies are all
the web designers who dangle their information just beyond my
reach and won't let me "get it."
Let me give you a few examples.
BULLY #1: I recently stumbled upon an absolutely gorgeous
website. You could tell a lot of thought had gone into its lush
design: an Egyptian theme throughout; rich earth tones;
3D-effect wallpaper; jeweltone click buttons. It was everything
the gods of esthetics prescribe.
But I couldn't figure out what in the name of Nefertiti they
The home page had no menu and gave no hint where to click to
proceed inside. I moused around until I finally found the c-spot
which took me to a second page that also had no menu and no
information. I clicked again. And again. This painfully slow-
loading site forced me to click four times before it coughed up
some product information. Yawn.
GRADE SCHOOL LESSON: If your visitors are still groping around
in the dark after two or three clicks, they'll go home without
BULLY #2: Even the pros screw up sometimes. Here's the story of
how a major airline bullies its online visitors.
I dropped in to their website recently with two objectives: to
get flight information; and to learn about their frequent user
program. Well, I got my flight information, no problem. But
here's what happened when I tried to get a basic explanation of
their rewards program:
I found the program, let's call it Fflyer, listed on the home
page and clicked. It brought me to a menu where I logically (or
so I thought) selected "the basics". This delivered me to yet
another menu with options like "how to claim your reward",
"elite program" and "newsletter". But no "About Us" page, no
tidy little summary of the Fflyer program.
If I was an ordinary web surfer, I'd have checked out by this
point. But in the name of research, I pushed on.
That same page also sported a cascading menu that offered
information for Fflyer members and guests. I clicked on guests
which took me to a registration form. And STILL no details on
Research completed. Final grade: F.
GRADE SCHOOL LESSON: Keeping the ball away from the monkey in
the middle is a lot of fun... unless you're the monkey.
BULLY #3: Sometimes bullies manage to confuse us AND shoot
themselves in the foot at the same time.
There's a small website that rates online casinos. The first
item on their "Recommended Casinos" page read something like
this: "Please don't visit these casinos... they're rip offs." I
was surprised to find directly below that, the names and URLs of
several major online gaming sites that I knew to be reputable.
It took a few minutes to figure out what went wrong. The
webmaster had failed to make it clear that the list of rip-off
casinos was actually on the next page, one click away. He just
ran all his text together in a block and forgot those two most
important words: Click Here.
As a result, he misinformed his visitors AND drove traffic away
from his preferred casinos (which were likely paying him a
commission on referred traffic).
GRADE SCHOOL LESSON: If you do your homework in a big hurry
without paying attention to details, you'll only hurt yourself.
These three Internet bullies forgot the basics of organization
that every good student knows. Before writing a major essay, put
your thoughts in order with an outline. Before uploading a new
website, create a "mind map" or a "wire frame" with all your
pages represented and a sound idea of how visitors will navigate
Then test the navigation on somebody who knows nothing about
your product and see if they can find the answers to their
questions, quickly and painlessly.
If they "get it"... if they leave your neighborhood with their
caps on their heads and aren't afraid to play on your street
another day... congratulations! You are NOT an Internet bully.
About the author:
How can you free up more of your time and improve your traffic
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writes action-provoking e-zine and web content, news releases,
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