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    Back Issues, Weekly
    Week Ending: Jan 27, 1996
    January 27, 1996
    Sun, in it's quiet way, is shoring up the fundamentals of web publishing and site development. The recently released Guide to Web Style is a generous collection of conventional wisdom about site development. We'd argue that the author errs on the side of the conventional at the expense of real market understanding. As an introductory guide, though, the material is quite useful. It's refreshing to revisit the baseline assumptions about the Web.

    Rumors and conversation about the coming Web Shakeout seem to increase every day. The current spin is that 70% of all new servers are being installed behind corporate "firewalls" and that the real innovations will take place there. The Web, it is said, promises a revolution in internal automation and a reinvigoration of the corporate MIS function.

    We think this misses the mark. While it's true that the Web's long term strength is not likely to be retail product and service delivery, the web as an industrial marketplace is far from a minor footnote. The Web revolution is about the radical distribution of marketing functions into the hands of individual business people and corporate team members. The trick for Web based marketers will be, at least in part, penetrating the corporate firewalls. Once inside, the potential for forming American versions of Japanese Kieretsu seems high.

    The logical consequence of "Intranet" applications will be to maintain the flatness of large organizations. That means an ever increasing emphasis on outsourcing and the development of complex electronic relationships. The frontiers of electronic marketing may well be at the industrial level rather than at the consumer delivery level.

    January 26, 1996
    Book mark CyberAtlas. The site, published by Interstellar is a one stop shopping experience for the top level view of the Net and the Web as a marketplace. If you want comparative facts and figures about the size of the market as a whole, this is the place to stop.

    CyberAtlas suffers from a weakness that is universal at this juncture. The top level market statistics tell you little about the actual business opportunities in a specific niche. Otherwise, it's an informative compilation of material that would take days to compile.

    Using the web to build relationships over time probably takes more than promotion, a site and products or services. We're increasingly impressed with the power of outbound individual marketing in the form of regular email to self selected subscribers.

    We find that most people prefer to get value before committing to a relationship, so requests (or demands) for registration early in the process are likely to produce limited results. The evidence from the early pioneers is so voluminous that we're surprised that anyone still asks for registration early on in the process.

    W3.com is a great case in point. Their software product is nothing short of fantastic, but you'd think that they had no clue about the Web business world.. The software manages flat file databases as Websites. It has the power to individually tailor each visitor's experience of the Website based on demonstrated preferences. It can offer chat capabilities and more complex conferencing and a sort of pseudo email. It's an amazing feature set.

    Their site, however is another matter. Experienced designers of interactive media know that the delivery of tailored content is a huge engineering project that requires a significant up front investment. W3.com blithely prices their software at $5K and demonstrates through the site design that they have a handle on the technology but no handle on the psychology or process of interactive design. With all of their subtle technical capacity, the more or less demand registration at the entrance to the site. If you can find a way to look beyond their implementation, you'll find a powerful product worth emulating or using.

    January 25, 1996
    The dust is settling quickly. Recent widely published rumors about a possible Netscape-AOL alliance point to a rapid acceleration in the consolidation of the browser market. Until Microsoft's Internet Explorer matures a bit more, we recommend targeting the Netscape browser for development and simply forgetting the others.

    Why? If you're like most enterprises on the Web, the hassle and overhead involved in making your material universally accessible is a major distraction from learning the ropes about doing business. Rather than having the technology set your course, we are in favor of plowing ahead, making mistakes and grasping the dynamics of your particular business online. Prepare a form letter that describes your commitment to delivering value using the de facto standard setter and send it to anyone who complains.

    At a variety of points in the near term development of the Web, you will face similar decisions. It's clear enough now to decide to go with the standard setter. A cost-benefit analysis, based on your traffic, will show that continuing to support competing browsers (an expense you bear because they are not behaving competitively) is simply not an effective use of your limited funds. After all. you wouldn't buy a plane ticket to your retail store for a customer whose complaint was that they couldn't get there, would you?

    Part of effective business management in a technical environment is knowing when to cut the cord on competing approaches. The time has arrived.

    As the other browsers mature (though it looks like there will only be two), we'll keep you posted. The decision isn't permanent but must be revisited routinely.

    If you haven't been using the latest version of Netscape,Download it now. Why?Plug in technology is starting to be available.Macromedia's Shockwave plug-in is particularly impressive.

    January 24, 1996
    Ralph Wilson's WEB MARKETING TODAY gets better with every issue. Number 5, released in the past couple of days contains an absolutely delicious rant about Passionate Customer Service and the importance of turning down cetain clients in order to be sure that you deliver the quality you intend. The bulk of the issue is devoted to a turorial on the use of forms to complete your marketing delivery on a website. His tips and pointers are almost always worth checking out.

    January 23, 1996
    New and Changed Sites This Week



    January 22, 1996
    If you don't read Robert Seidman's Online Insider, you're missing a weekly dose of insight into the relationship between the subscription services (AOL, Compuserve, Prodigy, MSN) and the Web.

    To subscribe Send an e-mail message to:LISTSERV@PEACH.EASE.LSOFT.COM
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    A Web version of the newsletter is available at: http://www.clark.net/pub/robert.

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    All material on this site is © 1995, 1996 by IBN (The Internet Business Network), Mill Valley, CA 94941