Note to New Web Sites


I know you, the small business owner, spent a gajillion dollars on your web site, dollars you probably didn’t have in your lovely little small shop’s budget until some friend of yours or (more likely) some consultant friend of a friend of yours dropped by wearing a trendy scarf and very expensive shoes and convinced you that to stay competitive, to stay current, to make a statement, you needed to have a web site with lots of sensual images and flowing movement. She said it was essential that you build this site in Flash. She said all the cool kids were doing it. And you fell for it.

You probably know nothing about how to develop web sites and maybe you don’t want to. Maybe – probably – you just want to go about your business of selling specialty teas or lipstick made out of ground up fairies or balsa wood harmonicas. You had a dream, a small business dream, and your web site was not part of that dream. Your web site was like that trivet you bought before that party that one time: it’d be nice if it were pretty but mainly it just had to preserve the finish on your coffee table.

I’m sorry to have to break it to you but you blew it.

I know it’s Monday and I know it’s raining and you were probably hoping to just sort through your grey day and go home for a nice cup of tea without anyone getting all up in your business, but there it is. You made a mistake. You dropped the ball. You took the wrong tine at the fork in the road and the end of that road is your very expensive, extremely irritating web site.

Unless you are either a game-crazed teenaged boy or a deranged person with a lot of time on your hands at the residential facility where you live, a Flash home page is a blight.

When you build a Flash movie into your home page (e.g. here), your visitor’s very first experience of this business of yours – the one that you have so carefully planned and built – is of waiting. Waiting while you get yourself together. Waiting while you go get your slide deck and set up the projector.

I hate to break it to you, but a musical slideshow of your best features is not of interest to anyone but your beloved and even then, s/he is probably only being polite. I know it’s hard news to get, but your customers do not want to see your slides or your movies. (At least not until you’ve gotten them drunk or offered them a shiny object and maybe not even then.)

Let me give you an analogy. You see a store. You go into the foyer. There is a clock in front of you blocking the door into the store itself. The clock starts counting to 100. You wait. You have no choice. The clock is at 17, then 23. You wait some more. There is nothing to do but wait or leave. If you are me, you leave. If you are not me (or a more patient version of me), you wait. But you are getting progressively more impatient. By the time the clock gets to 100, you are annoyed. Then you get to go into the store. But since you’re annoyed, all the nice things in the window look annoying now. To make things even more scream-out-loud frustrating, the actual store doesn’t have an address, only the foyer has an address. So when you come back (not that you’d want to but maybe you have short term memory loss) you have to go through the whole thing all over again.

See? Not good, dude, not good.

It’s time to get back to basics. Pull the plug. Strip out the Flash and build a usable site with clear navigation and no pop-up windows (you’re not selling porn, are you?). If you must, take your pretty pictures and create a gallery that your customers can visit if they want to, but no more countdowns and mood music and movies of flower arrangements.

I don’t even know you yet. That crap is not first date material so just cut it out.


Categories: News, Nuisance, Miscellany, Wishlist


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