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The Hits Myth

... how many "hits" did you get today?

In 1995, Apple Computer said your site needs 5,000 hits a day to be considered successful. I think that's a gross statement -- and in 1995, perhaps it was true. I don't want 5,000 hits a day, do you?

In the first place, if these are real readers, and they truly glean something from your information, your servers will be on their knees, or crashing down.

If you get one percent response, that's 50 emails per day. Think about 5,000 hits a day -- there are 1,440 minutes in a day -- that means 3.472 "hits" per minute. What does that tell you? Sure if you're Playboy or Adobe or Wired you can bragg about all your hits. You get millions. Yet what does that mean?

First, let's back up. What are "hits"?

The mass marketers and web merchandisers want you to use the number of "hits" (or "views") as some kind of gauge to the success of your site. Some want you to believe that you're talking to some authoritative voice, yet they are so new to the internet that evidently haven't discovered what hits are.

Hits actually tell you very little about what's happening. They're grossly overrated. Each time a server senses a user mounting an item it's counted as a hit. Sounds good doesn't it. In reality by "items" we refer to anything that is called up by the visitors' browser -- the page, graphics, maps, Java scripts, etc.

If you have a page that has sixteen items on it then once someone arrives at that page, the server registered sixteen hits. We've seen pages with as many as 200 items. (This page has about 25 or so.) So, you see it's very misleading.

I think what many of the mass marketers had in mind was that for 5,000 hits, hopefully some of them will be quality people. I certainly hope so. (By the way, some pages recently tested in had more than 200 items which will register as "hits".)

It's about relationships

What I would rather develop is meaningful relationships.
      I've been so thankful for the thousands of listings in my guest book and comments pages in the Design & Publishing Center. Sure, some are just there for the prizes. But the overall majority of guests register some comment that tells me they spent some time there and went deeper into the content. Others post a question, or suggest a topic I cover in DT&G. Many even say: "Thank goodness, I've finally found something I can use!" That's the reward. It's also testament to the techniques we'll be discussing in WebDesign Review.

Well conceived relationships begin with a memorable event. Now, you need to ask yourself how you can design the web layout to be memorable. What visual stimulus can you provide that will stick in the readers memory... and make them return later. Ask yourself...

Next: Will they remember?


Fred Showker toured with DGEF (Dynamic Graphics Educational Foundation) from 1989 through 1995 conducting seminars throughout the U.S. on Creative Layout Techniques, Web Design and Newsletter Design.

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