The Passing Lane: Passing the Competition Online by Marnie Perhson

Issue #9 Monday, November 16,1998

About the Author:

Marnie Perhson
Marnie Pehrson, founder of C.E.S. Business Consultants and the
International Association of Computer Professionals, develops products that help computer professionals market and manage their businesses.

She is author of
How to Run a Successful Computer Training Business,

How to Get & Keep Customers for Your Computer-based Business

Keeping Your Sanity in a Home Business.

Marnie also develops business plans, marketing strategies, financial projections, & proposals for Internet projects. Her plans and strategies have garnered clients an average of $100,000 each in seed capital.

Marnie lives on a Georgia farm with her husband and their six children .

C.E.S. Business Consultants
Ringgold, Georgia
TEL: 706-866-2295


Are You Driving Visitors Away?

We talk a lot about ways to bring people to your Web site, but are you driving them away once they get there? There's a lot more to a profitable Web site than traffic; the key is what you do with visitors once they arrive. In the next few articles I'll be talking more about what to do with visitors once they´re with you.

The first 20-30 seconds visitors are with you are the most vital in peaking their interest. If your home page is an immediate turn off, you'll lose them before you can even get your message across.

Often, we build our Web sites to make ourselves happy--we base our design on what we want and not what our potential visitors want. Visitors care more about clear organization, easy navigation, and valuable information than they do about animation, fancy Java scripts, and bulky graphics.

Some typical turn-off's that drive visitors away are the following:

  • Java scripts that don't work on all browsers or give errors in some browsers. An excellent resource for Java scripts and information on their browser compatibility can be found at
  • Graphics that are too big and take forever to load. Graphics should be kept under 25-30k in size. Use to minimize the size of graphics on your site.
  • Home pages that take too long to load. Keep the file size of your home page down as low as possible. Under 20k in size is good. If you've only got 20-30 seconds to capture a visitor's attention, don't let those seconds be eaten up while they wait for the page to load! Web Site Garage can help you evaluate the HTML coding and load-time of your Web site.
  • Poor design. Some typical poor home-page design elements include the following:
    • Extending beyond one to two screens on the home page;
    • Drab, default gray backgrounds;
    • Screen-full after screen-full of text paragraphs;
    • Compatibility with only one or two browsers;
  • Dead links. Link validity can be hard to keep up with on large sites with listings, etc. But, at least make sure the links that go to your own site are accurate. Net Mechanic has a dead link checker at

Before adding that cool graphic, animation or Java script, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does this element really add to the usability of my site?
  • Does this element help to steer visitors to the places I want them to go?
  • Does this element make my site more informative?
  • Does this element make people want to stay and learn more?

If you answered "No" to these questions, you should seriously consider whether this design element is necessary. Don't take the risk of driving visitors away just because you want to boost your ego or want to play with the latest technology. Use design elements that are usable and valuable to your visitor.

Come back next week to learn how to Steer Visitors Where You Want Them To Go.

Text Copyright © 1998, Marnie Pehrson. Part of the original Sideroad.
The new Sideroad is now receiving traffic at