Viewpoint: Reviewing Top Engineering Web Site Turnoffs

Developing a list of top engineering web sites requires many hours spent on hundreds of sites, combing through links and libraries of information. In evaluating what makes a good web site, it quickly becomes apparent what also makes a poor web site. Sites that are slow to load (because of excessive graphics), difficult to navigate and, in short, take up too much of a visitor's time do not encourage a return visit. Some of these negative factors include:

* Poor graphic design * Excessive graphic design that slows access to the site * Use of a "false" home page that requires an additional click to enter site * Difficult navigation * Lack of a site map * Lack of a search function * Lack of information * Inactive links * Lack of full (physical address, phone and FAX, e-mail addresses) contact info * Registration required for main site * Registration required for application notes, drivers, etc.

Sites that require registration (in order to learn more about a user) generally require a password for a return visit. Many users forget or misplace their passwords, becoming frustrated when trying to enter the site upon a return visit.

One of the most common mistakes made by web site designers is to bury or not even list company contact information. The best-designed sites make it easy to find their physical location, telephone numbers, and other contact details, even putting it up front on the home page. The worst sites omit this information altogether. And for companies with large catalogs, a search function is essential. In fact, the search function should offer multiple modes of operation, for example based on part numbers, application areas, and key words.

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