Rob Frankel - Branding Expert

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A Solution You Can't Count On.

As long as we're talking about web stuff, can someone please explain to me why web designers insist on placing counters on their home pages? Try as I might, I can't figure out why anyone, anywhere, would want to display the number of visitors that have clicked into this or that little piece of digital paradise. What is this, an ego thing? Half the time, they don't work and the other half, they're not accurate. As a matter of fact, putting a counter on your home page is fast becoming the hallmark of newbies, and a totally wrong decision for a number of reasons:

1. THE NUMBER IS TRUE. Okay, let's say you have a gizmo that actually calculates the real number of visitors that have clicked on your site. You have the latest, state-of-the-art number-clicker technology. You've carefully carved out precious space on your site to display the holy number. The only question is, who really cares? Does anyone really think that showing a higher number count is going to encourage more people to visit more often? Conversely, does anyone think that showing a low number will discourage them? And as long as we're at it, who defines what's low and what's high? Finally, has anyone considered the fact that a large percentage of everyone's daily hits are from search engine spiders and robots? "Hey, I got 15,000 hits from non-human technoid drones!"

Impressive, eh?

2. THE NUMBER IS FAKE. Considering that nobody knows the answers to the questions in #1, what point is there in assuring accuracy with a number? There was a time (believe it or not) when people hotly debated the accuracy of counters. In my book, that's about as important as debating the ethical qualities of cheese. Of course, if you must have a counter for your site, and you really believe that a high number increases repeat visits to your site, simply install your counter starting at say, oh, 1,243,778. Who's gonna check? It's sort of like numbering your new checks at 1001 instead of 101; it makes people think you're a lot more established than you really are....uh-huh. Sure.

3. THE NUMBER IS GONE. This is the solution that makes the most sense. Lose the counter altogether. After all, there is no upside to this gimmick, there's a lot of downside, and you're eating up display space that could more readily be used to show your content. But even this isn't my favorite solution.

4. BREAK THE DAMN THING. This is my favorite method of disposing of the counter issue. And the best part is that it's simple as can be: display a GIF file of a broken counter. This is a great solution, because there really is no downside, only upside: First, it's funny, adding a nice element of personality to your page. Second, it doesn't rely on a number to gage your site's success. What it does do, is imply that so many people accessed your site that the the damn thing broke from overuse.

For those of you who would like your own version of Frankel & Anderson's Broken Counter, simply click. We'll have it up and not working right away.


Rob Frankel

Copyright 1997, FRANKEL & ANDERSON * Advertising, Marketing & Killer Creative * * Toll-Free in USA & Canada: 1-888-ROBFRANKEL * Telephone: 818-990-8623 * FAX: 413-778-0909 *

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