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By Heather Reimer
Posted Friday, June 25, 2004

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 were selling.

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 their caps.

BULLY #2: Even the pros screw up sometimes. Here's
the story of how a major airline bullies its online

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 their program!

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

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 among them.

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

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 and revenues? Hire an experienced writer/editor.
Heather Reimer writes action-provoking e-zine and web
content, news releases, sales letters, ads and articles.
Get a free content analysis report when you request an


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