Insights on Interfaces: 1: Enter Now

Stephen Yagielowicz

Having a well thought out and functional user interface is vital for member sales and retention. While most Webmaster's consider this to mean "easy navigation" — it involves more than that. This article will look at the first "user interface" that your visitors are exposed to: your Web site's "front end;" including your warning, doorway, and 'warming' pages:

If you're looking to build your first adult Web site, or rebuild an existing one, then having a proper foundation from which to build upon is essential. This series will show you a number of ways to enhance your approach, by focusing on the User Interface in context of the whole 'user experience.' This is where the rubber hit's the road, but all too often it's done as an after thought, or worse yet, not done at all. Here's a few tips to help you out:

Have a "Warning" Page
While they provide little real legal protection, they are nonetheless an important factor when trying to show 'due diligence' as far as keeping minors out of your site and away from adult and / or harmful materials. This will be increasingly necessary due to the administration's anticipated crackdown on adult web sites, and in fact I have already noticed a number of established pay sites adding warning pages to their front ends.

Realize that you will defeat the purpose of this page if you place any hardcore banners on it, and this includes any of the popular 'hit counters' whose graphics can be extremely hardcore images! I would in fact recommend that you place no banners or logos on this page at all. Instead, make it as fast loading as possible. Your goal is to let the surfer know that adult material is one click away — and to provide folks who should not be accessing this material an opportunity to leave.

While I would not advise you to use really explicit text on a warning page, suggestive text may be a way to increase the chances of getting that first "Enter Now" click. A well designed Index page could use strategically highlighted, highly descriptive text, that is not "offensive" should someone inappropriate accidentally read it. Additionally, a snippet of DHTML coding could be used to blink the "enter" link for added attention.

Ensure that your "Enter" link will be visible on an 800x600 screen without scrolling, even if the underlying links for your "info" page (which contains a variety of information for surfers, including a privacy statement, legal info, help for parents, etc.) requires scrolling to see. This page is also a great place to "sniff" for JavaScript compatibility, discriminating users based upon browser and screen resolution (if you perform such tasks), and for pre-loading images to make your graphical "splash" page load much more quickly.

Your warning page should also contain META tag information for more relevant search engine indexing, as well as RSACi information as well as any special coding to alert filtering software to the presence of adult materials. While not all of these features are currently required, it is but a simple matter to add these features, transforming your basic warning page into a finely tuned "doorway" into your site.

Stepping Through the Door
Speaking of doorways, once you have finished tuning this page, you should then duplicate it a number of times. The main copy will be the default "home page" and free of any outside links. The remaining copies will each sport a number of reciprocal buttons, banners, and text links. Putting say 4-5 of these links per page will not unreasonably slow the loading process, yet will allow you to circulate traffic from other sources into your site in a way that returns fresh traffic back to the traffic source. This is similar to what you would use on a TGP gallery page.

Another consideration is the naming of these doorway pages. Many traffic sources - and many search engines - do not like to see page names like "index_0001.html" as they are obvious doorways, and perhaps they feel that there is something "bad" about that. I'll avoid that issue altogether by naming my doorway's things like: index, enter, main, home, default, etc. These are common page names that you will often see used for "home" pages. This is not only an effective pre-sell, it can be a ~ 30sec. distraction that will allow your graphics to continue loading in the background.

"Hmm:" you say, "that's not too many acceptable page names, and with 4-5 links each, it doesn't add up to much:" Well, let me at least triple the number for you: each of these names can bear different extensions, such as .htm, .html, and .shtml - so index.html, rather than being just one page, is now three, simply by making index.htm and index.shtml - each with different reciprocal links, yet still considered your "main page"!

Have a "Warming" Page
After your warning page comes the "warming" page. One option is to use a fast-loading "Flash" type DHTML intro screen that displays a series of text messages greeting the surfer and letting him know what to expect inside. I call it a "warming" page because I'm trying to "warm up" the prospect to the idea of entering my site. This is not only an effective pre-sell, it can be a ~ 30sec. distraction that will allow your graphics to continue loading in the background. It also provides one more opportunity to let people know that this is indeed 'a porno site,' and if they came past the warning page by "mistake" they still have an opportunity to leave before they see any photos of a naked girl!

While this script works best in IE5+ (doesn't everything!) it also works in NS4+ and only requires that JavaScript be enabled (one of the reasons you're sniffed at the door for it). And because you use text only, it is incredibly easy to update the displayed message. This isn't just eye-candy, it is a powerful pre-sell, and I expect to see more of this approach on adult sites in the near future. Once your warming page runs its course, the surfer finds himself at your "main" ('splash') page.

Stay tuned for more as I take a look at tour pages next: ~ Stephen

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