PROVIDENCE, RI — In the blink of an eye, website visitors can appear and disappear. They are fickle, fast, and light on their fingers. They need instant information or gratification. Otherwise, they’ll move on to another website.

Paul Pollets knows about website visitors. The owner of Advanced Radiant Technology in Seattle, WA, has spent a lot of time and money figuring out the best ways to keep people at his website ( and not shopping the competition.

“Design of a website can welcome people in or drive them away,” said Pollets.

Pollets has won a prize for his website design from Inc. magazine when it named Advanced Radiant’s site one of the best small business websites for 1999.

The award had an immediate impact on his business, he said. “Our website usage jumped 20% to 25% since Inc. recognized us.” Of course, it didn’t hurt to have a direct link to Inc.’s website, either.

Yellow Pages: An Advertising Dinosaur?

Pollets said that the standard bearer for advertising before the Internet has been the Yellow Pages. But he thinks the new age of website advertising is making a dinosaur of traditional Yellow Pages ads.

“The Yellow Pages have been less attractive for getting new customers,” he said. “Ads were pretty uninteresting, but now we have complete control over the design of the ad because we build our own website. The Internet has become the great equalizer.”

Pollets added that customers who shop the Internet generally have more money to spend than Yellow Pages browsers. But he warned that the speed of the Internet has produced some new concerns.

“The average site is only viewed for 30 seconds. As fast as the Internet is, you’ll have to be just as fast to respond to your customers.”

Getting Started

Pollets said that businesspersons should expect to pay between $2,000 and $25,000 to develop a website. He advises finding a webmaster to set up the site, especially if owners aren’t sure of the task and/or don’t have enough time.

“Ask yourself, ‘Do I have the time to do this? Who is going to run my business while I am writing my website?’”

Pollets advised website developers to set up a “false” address where a workable web page can be displayed and critiqued by experts and other businesspeople. Access to this “website under construction” would be available only through a special password.

Pollets has developed his “Five Pillars of Web Success” for businesspeople to contemplate as they begin the web design process.

Pollets’ next “list” is called “A Website Design Primer for Contractors.” This is where he gets down to the nitty-gritty of web design (see sidebar, above).

Pollets added that once you’ve created a website and gone “live,” you can measure its hits by using a “Stat Server,” which lists the number of visitors to the site, the duration of their stay, the geographic region they are from, and what pages they viewed.

He said if the information shows the website to be a success, don’t spend a lot of time “tweaking” it.

Pollets recommends visiting the website of Ray Jutkins, whom he considers the “guru” of website developers, at