By Lauren Guzak and Patrick Joseph
(1/26/99, updated 6/22/01)class="f">
Microsoft and Netscape have both set the default home page in their browsers to their own sites, which has helped earned them considerable traffic. But why should they get all the glory? Why shouldn't surfers go to your site when they first fire up their browsers? They might, if you made it really easy for them to change their default home page to your page.
Setting a new default home page for visitors with Microsoft Internet Explorer is slick and easy. For visitors with Netscape Navigator, though, even My Netscape's Java-based method yields runtime errors aplenty (even in the latest versions). The only reliable way to reset the home page for Navigator users is to ask them to go into their Preferences menu and manually reset it. Good luck.
Since almost half of Web surfers now use IE, it's still worth setting up the trick below on your site. Here's what to do.
In a text file, paste the following:
"Start Page" ="http://yoururl.com/"
Save the file as default.reg, and put it in a directory on your Web server. Anywhere will do—your visitors will simply download the file to their desktops.
Add a line of text to your home page along the lines of Make CNET Builder.com your home page! and link it to the default.reg file:
<a href="default.reg">Make CNET Builder.com your home page!</a>
Make sure the link points to the actual directory in which you saved the
Add some text explaining that when people click the link, IE will ask them what to do with the default.reg file (either open the file or save it). Tell them to open the file, and then to click OK when they get the dialog box that tells them their registry has been updated.
The next time they click IE's Home button or fire up their browser, they'll be transported directly to your site, not some silly portal.
Lauren Guzak is a project manager for Ask Jeeves, and Patrick Joseph is a freelance writer.