Don't Confuse Web Design With Sex
Don't confuse web design with football either. I'll try to do my best not to offend anyone, but sex is one of those topics that is guaranteed to offend somebody.
Sex is the one thing everybody understands — to a certain extent — and that makes it easier to make analogies. I've tried many ways to convey a simple message and sometimes I feel the message is not getting through. Maybe a sexual analogy will work.
This topic does not revolve around personal sites or other sites that aren't accountable — movie sites, band sites, art sites, web logs, etc. I talk about sites where the focus is making money or disseminating information.
It's my opinion that web designers are confusing the web world with the real world. In the real world, foreplay is mandatory. You have to set the mood, you have to be gentle, you have to entice. Fine. But in the world of the web there's no place for foreplay. It's not necessary. It gets in the way. To put it bluntly, the web is "Wham. Bam. Thank you Ma'am." People don't need to be enticed or put in the mood when they visit your site. They're there for a particular reason and the sooner you give them what they came looking for, the better.
Your visitors don't need Splash pages, Flash pages, Mystery Meat Navigation, or whatever silliness you think will put them "in the mood." They want what they want NOW. "Give me your information. Sell me your product. Thank you, ma'am." (There is an exception to this "rule." Certain non-profit organizations can effectively use Splash pages to get potential donors "in the mood." See "Son of Web Pages That Suck" for details.)
One line from a Pointer Sisters (I believe) song went something like "I want a man with the slow hands." Can you imagine the following line about a web site — "I want a page with the slow load"? Not really. Web design is about giving people what they want as quickly as possible in a way that they'll buy your product, your service, or contribute to your cause. (Some non-profits may be an exception — some mood setting may be necessary. You should know the difference.)
Just as we've all been told not to confuse love with sex, we should also remember not to confuse web design with sex. Web design is about making money for the designer and, more importantly, the client.