Ways to Reduce Web Site Traffic

Attend a conference on e-commerce, and the guru du jour will preach the gospel of usability, navigation and interface design, customer experience and so on. The promise is that the more user-friendly your site, the more repeat traffic you will generate.

Traffic schmaffic. Don’t those Web gurus get it? Most businesses do not want traffic. They just put up a Web site because everyone else puts up a Web site. And more visitors mean more headaches.

I feel your pain. So I will cut through the baloney and give you some advice you can really use. Just try one or more of these simple tips, and I guarantee you will drive people away from your Web site and make sure they never, ever come back:

Keep out the riffraff with strict viewing requirements. Simply ask visitors to use a particular browser, adjust their monitors to specific settings and download the latest plug-ins. Only a handful of people will ever go to all that trouble.

Flash and splash them without mercy. There is nothing like a pretentious front page to tell people, “We’re better than you are. Na, na, na, na, na!” But the real beauty of Flash programming and fancy splash pages is that they usually take a long time to load. And statistics show that after 10 seconds of waiting, half of your visitors will go elsewhere.

Pound them into submission with endless pop-ups. Whack ’em with a pop-up the moment they land on your home page. Smack ’em with a pop-up when they click on a link. Then thwack ’em with a whole series of pop-ups when they leave. And make sure all your pop-ups promote other sites. That will suck away traffic like crazy. But if ordinary pop-ups are too wimpy for you …

Trap them in a buttonless browser jail. All it takes is a little coding and your pop-up fills the screen and removes all browser controls. The only way out is to order your product or shut down the computer. It will enrage most people, and they will never bother you again. But, hey, you may actually sell something. Gotta pay the rent every now and then.

Regale them with the Welsh national anthem. A little midi file, a little scripting, and you have yourself a really annoying musical page. But who says you can’t enjoy it? Indulge your personal taste. If an anthem is too starched-shirt for you, try The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” or ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.” Music doubles your chances of reducing traffic because 1) it makes people think you are an amateur, and 2) it drives people nuts, especially when there is no off button.

Make them scroll through 26 miles, 385 yards of copy. That’s the official distance of a marathon. And if it’s good enough for a foot race, it’s good enough for the Web. Most people will poop out in the first mile. Think how simple your design job will be with all your copy on one endlessly scrolling page.

Serve up mystery meat navigation. It’s the cure for those “links that tell you exactly what you’ll get and where you’ll go if you click on them” blues. All you do is create beautiful but mysterious graphical images for links. No text. Or you require your visitors to mouse over secret areas on the screen before the navigation elements reveal themselves. It is sort of like hide-and-seek. The only people who will want to play are your tech-savvy colleagues. Everyone else will get mad and go home. Bye-bye!

Spawn new browser windows with every click. This one is really fun because most people are pretty fuzzy about all those browser controls. So when you create a new window, you will take away the one feature they know how to use: the back button. It will be grayed out in the new window so they will not be able to use it.

Dazzle them with dozens of blinking banner ads. Just remember that every new banner must be bigger, brighter and flashier than the one before. Otherwise, your site may stop looking like a neon nightmare, people will start buying things from those ads, and then you will have to be in business for real … and who wants that?

Do you have a favorite Web traffic killer? E-mail me about it. I might do a follow-up article on this essential but often ignored aspect of Web site strategy.

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