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  • June 22 1996
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    Back Issues, Weekly
    Week Ending: July 06, 1996
    July 5, 1996

    We've seen several attempts at setting a "product standard for robots and agents". In other words, the core problem in establishing net-wide comparison shopping and market availability is that search engines can't tell what the words on your site mean. So, many developers and potential developers imagine agent standards for product categories, pricing structres and so on. (The first attempt that we ever saw was from Arthur Anderson

    Identify is a more completely fleshed out approach that includes an "HTML Extension" and a search agent that categorizes web sites using the extension. So, to participate in IDML (the "extension"), you modify your pages using their tags and then register with the search agent. Identify even provides you with an IDML Generator that produces correctly coded additional material for your site.

    The question becomes, "Will IDML evolve into the Web-wide standard for product identification?". It probably depends on whether or not Netscape, Microsoft, Sun or Oracle can be persuaded that the material makes sense. Even if it is just an interesting experiment, Identify has managed to define most of the "non-marketing" features required for the standard.

    July 4, 1996
    Everyone Needs an Informant

    Take a look at Informant (your personal search agent on the Internet). The service is a product of the Dartmouth labs and performs some functions similar to URL Minder. The Informant allows you to input 3 sets of keywords that you like to search for, and 5 favorite URLs. Then, the service checks, at an interval that you specify, and notifies you of changes by email. It's available for licensing and makes a great addition to site features.

    July 3, 1996
    Designing a Site Overhaul For Marketing

    Take a look at Kiahuna Beachside. The site, which began its life looking like this, was redeveloped by IBN over the past 60 days.

    We, as you know, believe that marketing is the foundation of effective site design. The Kiahuna Beachside design process began with traffic development and volume questions and objectives.

    The site has been a big success, with traffic in the thousands of weekly hits, driven by a win-win promotional strategy. We've used an award exchange as the basic site traffic develoment tool. Kiahuna Select Sites, our tool for managing cross-promotion, is a reciprocal link approach with a slight twist.

    By restricting our outbound liks on the site to players in the same marketplace (Hawaii), we've managed to create a vehicle that develops traffic for everyone involved. A select subset of the Hawaiian sites on the web were chosen, for a variety of reasons, as potential partners. Using the strategy implied in our article on Types of Links, we've given each of these potential "partners" the opportunity to display an award (that points to the Kiahuna Site). In exchange, we offer a review of the site that defines benefits to our target audience. Roughly 40% of the sites we approached responded positively and the result is increased traffic for everyone.

    We think that Kiahuna Select Sites is a solid model for the near term future of online promotion.

    July 2, 1996
    Where Have You Gone Joe DiMaggio?

    We've added a fairly heavy travel schedule to our summer plans so the "daily" might get a bit more erratic. Rest assured that we'll keep the material coming.

    July 1, 1996
    Javascript Tips

    We very highly reccommend theJavascript Tip of the Week page. If you're going to move forward from this point, your site will have to be increasingly user friendly. The current tip describes the Javascript required to tell which browser a visitor is using and then tailor the content accordingly. Bookmark it.

    June 30, 1996
    Document Viruses

    Our break was severely interrupted by an attack of the Microsoft Word Document Virus. Assuming that you use Microsoft Word, download and install the virus protection patch (IBM or Mac). The tool lets you scan your hard drive for the virus but works so slowly that we eventually turned it off. The IBM machines in our office were easily protected with Mcafee (a shareware version is a part of Shareware.com's IBM Survival Kit). The Mac machines have been more problematic. We have found no decent anti-viral protection that watches incoming Mac Files for the Word Virus. The Microsoft provided scanner read about 300 documents in 90 minutes. To scan our drives completely would have taken days. And, the Microsoft tools are dated in early May. We're reasonably sure that some of the variations of the virus we experienced were brand new and not covered by the Microsoft tools. Sheesh.

    The reason for all of this description? We caught the virus through email attachments. Essentially, the virus is a macro that saves a copy of the document's text in an invisible form. So your documents double in size when you save them. We noticed it as a 3 page word document that was over 2.5 Megabytes. It destroyed our email accounts and the accounts of some of our clients and partners (Eudora accounts sort of choke on large attachments). Needless to say, our clients and partners all had the great pleasure of learning about viral protection at the expense of work. It'd be fairly easy to let the virus grow a number of your files and rob you of all your hard disk space. Yuck.

    Not all is bleak by any stretch on the Microsoft front. We continue to be impressed with Internet Assistant for Word (IBM or Mac versions) and its great online tutorial. Rather than attaching a document to your notes, why not save it as a web page, using Internet Assistant for Word and mail the URL?

    June 26-29, 1996
    We're taking a three day break to celebrate one solid year of publishing. We'll be back on the 30th.

    June 25, 1996
    Know Who Your Market Is
    The news stories were small and they fit into the background noise. We didn't notice and figured you might have missed it too. SEGA SATURN SURFS THE NET FOR LESS THAN $450 WITH NEW 'NET LINK' INTERNET DEVICE.. Then we accidentally saw a demonstration.

    The Sega Saturn is what we called a "game machine" with some disdain. They kept the kids entertained and taught, we thought, some interesting concepts. But we were sure that they'd remain pigeonholed in the "interesting appliance" category. Instead, Sega has created a meaningful challenge to any pre-existing ideas we had about what the web is or can be.

    We're sure that we'll be pooh-poohed in some corners, but we believe that the Sega thrust is a part of a new turn in the web. For once and for all, generalizations about wht the "web" is or isn't, in any generic sense, will come to an end this fall. At $450, the game machines that we looked down on stand a chance of becoming the Internet's hardware interface of choice.

    Consider the consequences if that's even close to right.....Today's temporary slowdowns become tomorrows permanent bumber to bumper traffic; significant p[ortions of the Internet savvy community focus on point and click consumption with point and click input capability; clients want to reach the blossoming market; and on and on.

    The importance of knowing your market and it's interface hardware of choice will become paramount. To date, we've been able to focus on the evolving marketplace assuming that users shared, more or less, the same capability. We imagine that the intial fragmentation we see will evolve into very segregated markets. Some will have the dramatic graphics processing powers of the game machines. Others will be operating in an "ascii ghetto".

    It's going to be an interesting six or eight months as the technology leapfrogs. It will become increasingly important to be able to manage your clients' expectations as you help them navigate a very rapidly changing terrain. Now would be a very wise time to be sure that you know who your market is.

    June 24, 1996
    With the growth of new Web users continuing at a rapid pace, it's always worth pointing to delightful, single stop resources. WebMasters manages to effectively cram everything you need to know about getting started in online commerce into a single page of HTML. If you find yourself sending new people out to learn the ins and outs of the business, this is where to send them.

    June 23, 1996
    Jobs for Web Designers
    Take a look at the Web Engineer's Toolbox. A modest yet comprehensive destination for technical professionals involved in Website Design and Construction, the site developers have there eyes on their audience. The latest feature on Web Engineer's Toolbox is a Web Career Center for HTML authors and webmasters. Currently, job listings are free. Its both a great resource for recruiting web savvy professionals and a classic example of the evolution of the online employment marketplace towards professional alliances.

    Take a look at the Archives. We've indexed the past 25 issues with topic pointers. It should make the historical material somewhat easier to get through.

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