Internet Dogma

Dogma is the belief in something because it is "known" to be true
and consequently there is no need to examine the evidence. Dogma
is often used in political or religious references because their basic
tenet is that their fundamental belief is a given. Democrats and
Liberals believe that social responsibility is the primary objective of
a government. Republicans and Conservatives believe that a strong
economy will take care of society. I believe that if I were as rich as
Bill Gates I would take care of everyone
. (Attila the Hun and
Genghis Khan shared a similar belief.)

The Internet is fertile ground for Dogma. The fact is that if an
'Expert' pronounces an Internet fact to be true, then it can quickly
become true simply because there is no evidence or source of
evidence to contradict it. Pretty soon there are many experts
pronouncing the same 'truth' and using each other as their source.
As more experts pronounce each others truth, the more true it seems
to become.

I have many pet peeves regarding the Internet. A common one
relates to designing your web site. Not because there is a lot of
falsehood but because there is often no confirmation that the
information is based upon fact. Even though its apparent truth may
seem obvious, it may be superficial.

For example, how fast should your home page load? I have heard
many numbers about how many visitors you will loose for every ten
seconds of download time. 20% is a common one. So after 10
seconds of waiting you will be down to 80%. 20 second at 60%, 30
seconds at 40% and so on until no one is left. So is this true or

None of us like to wait. If we are waiting to turn at a traffic light we
may get impatient after a minute. If we are waiting for a plane we
can easily expect to wait for an hour before becoming impatient. In
either case, how soon are we likely to make the turn or leave the
airport simply because we are impatient with waiting?

It seems to me that a good business practice would be to avoid
getting your potential customers annoyed in the first place. If 20% of
visitors are likely to leave after 10 seconds (what sites do they
actually end up looking at?), then surely the remaining 80% are
becoming impatient. So what do you do? Create a site that loads in
10 seconds?

There are actually two dogmas involved here. The first assumes that
a visitor will wait to view your site if it loads fast. The second
assumes they will leave if it loads slowly. The fact is a visitor will
leave or stay for many other reasons. Load time is in my opinion, a
relatively minor factor for a well designed web site.

What is the truth? As with most truths, it is never so simple. A
visitor will likely stay or leave depending upon whether you have a
product or service that they are actually interested in. Assuming that
you do, your objective should NOT be to create a fast loading page
but to persuade your visitors to spend their time to explore your

An idea I can leave you with is to display your most important text
first. Text will not only load and display fast, it will give your
visitors something to read while the rest of your page loads. This
will help avoid loosing those visitors that are potential customers but
truly impatient.

Next week I will explore some options and ideas that can be used
when designing a web page as a sales tool for first time visitor. In
the mean time, keep in mind that there are currently few absolute
truths when it comes to the Internet.

"IMS Web Tips" ISSN 1488-7088
© Copyright
2000 Virtual Mechanics

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