E-arrogance - here's how to turn site visitors away

These snobbish sins usually fall into a handful of categories. Sites shout "do not enter" at the front door, control the user's desktop, mandate additional software, mandate additional bandwidth and control the browser. These sites pay big bucks to alienate visitors and scream stupidity.

Herewith follow the top ten offences of e-arrogant sites. And although the Web abounds with these expensive follies, we intentionally omitted the URLs of exemplar e-arrogant sites. But we hope users, investors and management will voice their discontent to the offending Web site managers assuming these managers read and reply to e-mail.

Secret handshake to enter -- The home page displays a vanity graphic, that the Web site team likes. Unfortunately this corpulent, slow-to-download picture does absolutely nothing for the user other than waste time and add clicks. Worse, there are no instructions to click on the graphic to enter. Users that don't know the secret handshake leave frustrated. And users that click on, do so angrily.

Enter, but only under our conditions -- If you don't have Adobe Acrobat, Flash, the latest versions of Microsoft or Netscape and your monitor isn't set at 800x600 or above, then you aren't right for this site. Hello, who's the customer -- the visitor or the Web site? Would your mother understand how to change a monitor's resolution or download and install Flash? And assuming you take the time to download and can successfully install Flash, what is your reward? Usually it's silly animation that pales in comparison to Disney's first cartoon, Steamboat Willy.

Have another window -- The site opens up additional browser windows for you. What's going on here? Who asked for these additional browser windows? Visitors remember the confusion and extra work closing down windows.

You can't go back -- Disabling the "back" button is another trick of content-less sites. For some visitors, this is a nuisance. But other visitors have no idea how to escape and eventually close the browser or even re-boot the computer. Regardless, why would a visitor want to revisit a jail?

You are visitor number whatever -- So what! Why does a visitor care how many people have visited the site. If the number is low, what are they doing there? If the number is high, is this site telling the truth? And as these counters almost always connect to another site that houses the count, the page takes longer to load.

Frames -- As Web design guru Jakob Nielsen advocates, "just say no" to this design feature that frustrates and confuses the visitor. Better yet, ask the frame fanatics why they like frames and the response is usually the same, "So I can control the visitor's navigation." Case closed.

Listen to this -- The site knows you'd like their music, thus they're playing you this song. The site may have to shut down your current music or crash your computer, but what the hey. It's a cool tune and they kinda sorta figured out how to play it on your computer.

Minimum speed limit, T1 -- Two of the Web's most popular sites, Yahoo! and Amazon, keep their pages between 15 and 25k. Their pages load quickly. E-arrogant sites argue that their audience is exclusively those with T1 or faster connections. Good luck. Broadband is years away and new tools like Napster are slurping bandwidth as fast as it becomes available.

Java script and additional errors -- The site hasn't quite figured out how to program this fancy application, but that's not the point. What's important is that it works sometimes for some users.

Their software read your message -- But they didn't. They may get around to responding but in the meantime, here's the same information they have on their Web site.

Clue-less sites commit these sins and are doomed to fail. Unlike mass media such as TV or radio, the net is user-driven. Clued-in sites accept that the balance of power has shifted to the visitor and design sites so that their users call the clicks.