With the growth in the number of web sites, users must choose among many alternative web sites and designers must face the challenge of keeping the user's duration. Web site design is an iterative process of fine-tuning to enhance user satisfaction. According to the hygiene–motivation theory, the emotions of satisfaction and dissatisfaction are caused by two different categories of characteristics. Lack of dissatisfaction does not mean satisfaction, and lack of satisfaction does not mean dissatisfaction. This study proposes a parsimonious and effective multidimensional evaluation tool: a max–min approach to combine the hygiene–motivation factors and thereby provide a strategy to compare the competitive position of different web sites. The interfaces of eight e-retailer web sites for computer and communication products were targeted for evaluation. Four hygiene factors (navigation, information display, ease of learning and response time) and five motivation factors (interaction with people, screen complexity, user empowerment, visual appearance and achievement) are measured. The evaluations on hygiene and motivation factors were transformed into max and min effectiveness scores using the proposed models. Three zones (zone of intolerance, zone of efficiency and zone of satisfaction) were described to illustrate the role of strategic planning of a site interface in shaping a competitive position among the observed web sites.