Special Effect that Bombs Number

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      Special Effect that Bombs Number 1: Flash!

      When web sites don't offer any content—any useful information to read—what do they put up there instead? Spinning Coke bottles. Chicken McNuggets and French fries that zoom out toward Large Ring Gear Suppliers you when you position your cursor over them. Changing pictures of generic-looking office buildings and men in suits (on the web site of real estate giant CB Richard Ellis—but that essentially describes the generic look of many corporate web sites).

      Of course, Flash can be used as a way to present content—words, both printed and recorded, and pictures that actually illustrate something. But more often, it is used to impress. And most often, it ends up annoying. Who wants to spend the better part of a minute waiting for a rotation of generic pictures of smiling models?

      Special Effect that Bombs Number 2: Splash Screens

      You type in duracell.com expecting information on batteries—which you will find, if you have the patience not to hit the “back” button while the site shows a picture of a battery revolving painfully slowly.

      On http://www.mcdonalds.com you're met with pictures of happy children playing with Ronald McDonald and a menu to select what country you're from.

      Johnson's and Johnson's web site shows a logo before automatically redirecting you to the main page—that is if it doesn't crash your browser first (which happened when the author tried to access the page on May 2, 2004 ).

      Another way big consumer corporations' web sites from Schick to Mercedes-Benz to Thomas Cooke waste your time with splash pages is by making you choose what country you're visiting from. This could have been detected automatically, or at least, useful worldwide content could have been placed on the homepage, with an option to choose a country prominently displayed.

      Splash pages are the internet equivalent of making patrons wait in line out front before letting them inside. Unless a site belongs to a night club or a professional services firm with too much business, keeping people outside can't be a good idea.

      Special Effect that Bombs Number 3: Overbuilt or Badly Built “Dynamic” Functionality

      Every web surfer has a story about a shopping cart that malfunctioned just when they were about to click “purchase” on something they really wanted. Or a detailed form that lost all the information after the “submit” button was pressed.

      Sometimes, malfunctioning dynamic content can distort the way an entire site presents itself. If the dynamic content is so complex that it presents problems for many users, it is unlikely the dynamic content is worth it. When I visited disney.com in May 2004, my first greeting was a message that your computer is sufficiently up-to-date (or not) to handle the site.

      In short, you may want your small or medium-sized business to get as big as Coca Cola or Disney, but you'll never get there if your website looks like theirs do.