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industry is on
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into a thousand
fragments due to
the knowledge explosion
and the proliferation
of new technologies.
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Crank up your Website!
Drive too fast and you're likely to end up as a superior form of roadkill. Ingest too much Methamphetamine Hydrochloride, and you're likely to end up on a mortician's slab.
Except on the Web, where speed of delivery is the currency du jour.
You have about ten seconds to capture your audience's attention. Longer than that, and the "Tarzan effect" comes into play (swinging through the trees).
Data travels over the Web in "packets" of 20Kb. Your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to design all your pages so they come in under 20Kb. (This page will self-destruct in 5 seconds...)
Graphics......slow everything down. They're big and bulky. If they don't illuminate or support your "message", leave 'em out. If you feel you need to use them, GIF's can be usually be reduced to 4 bits/pixel (or less) without a grotesque diminution in quality.
How small - physically - can you make a graphic? A 20% reduction in physical size computes to roughly a 50% reduction in "byte-size".
FramesCan you do without 'em? If so, do so. Frames are a hassle - slow to load, nothing more than a way of showing off.
TablesMost browsers load the contents of tables before displaying the page. If you load up tables with graphics and tons o' text, they'll take a long time to load.
Tables, however, are good for controlling layout. But remember to make TABLE WIDTH="n%" rather than a fixed pixel "n". That way your tables will adjust to the size of your viewers' screens and the monitor's resolution.
Commerceparklooks like a pretty useful source of business-related information, containing as it does sections on Research Sites, Internet News and Industrial Sites amongst others.
Heading for Internet News, I found several interesting articles, amongst them The Seven Laws of Cyber Advertising and The Do's and Dont's of Homepage Writing. Both of these articles are surprisingly ancient in Web terms, but are still relevant, and serve as useful reminders.
I found Commercepark through a link at the Internet Sales site, a UK-based site published by Emap plc, "one of Europe's leading media groups". Although there is a bias towards Europe and the UK in particular in its orientation, the site is packed with digests of reports on Internet commerce and statistics on Web use, which, if you are a "stats junkie" (like me), will help you waste hours on the Web...
The Marketing Hot List, compiled by Roger Green, founder-publisher of Internet Magazine, is a veritable gold mine. Amongst the gems - the announcement that The Pope's website is to be relaunched on Easter Sunday, comprising 1,200 documents in six languages. I bet you needed to know that... --John Blower
In an article in the San Francisco Examiner (March 23, 1997), brand and marketing consultant Lynn Upshaw identifies three areas as being the Web's primary value to businesses. These are as a revenue generator, a cost-cutting device and as a brand builder.
Upshaw believes that its greatest contribution will be as a long-term, strategic brand builder. By this he means that, through, for example, interactivity and customized content, the Web will become a major force in building brand loyalty.
It may seem self-evident, but brand recognition - and ultimately loyalty - requires integration of your "look" and "message" in all media. The Web abounds with examples of sites which bounce and jerk around with every conceivable technological trick, and yet seem to ignore or diminish the company's logo and/or tagline.
Of course, some companies' logos are not suitable for reproduction in the New Medium. Perhaps they are too complicated, so detail is lost.
Nonetheless, if you are in the market for a new logo, or an upgrade of an existing one, you should evaluate the design in the light of its suitability for use on a Website.
Unless you are designing a logo yourself, it's probably best for your graphic designer and site designer to confer or even collaborate. (Don't make the mistake of entrusting a graphic designer with the design of your site. I have a great deal of respect for the design profession, but, in my experience, GD's generally do not design good sites.)
In time, most design in other media will be influenced by the needs of the Web. It's probably wise to anticipate that trend, and begin to integrate your message across all media. --John Blower
Double the Trouble
Connectix recently announced the latest in its Doubler suite, a new browser plug-in called JAVADoubler (formerly known by its code name, DoubleShot). Slated for release today, the plug-in downloads all Java applets twice.
Using special parallel download technology described by engineers as "caffeinated to the max," the double download takes no longer than a normal, single download.
Why download two copies? Well, JAVADoubler doesn't stop percolating its magic once the copies are downloaded. Using memory buffering technology borrowed from RAM Doubler, JAVADoubler monitors the first download's activities, and when the applet crashes or hits an offending instruction, JAVADoubler moves operations over to the second downloaded copy.
While that copy continues to run, JAVADoubler quickly downloads another
copy. We applaud Connectix for its continuing efforts to help users
catch up to the ever-rushing train of technological change.
How Long is a Piece of String?
That question is analogous to "How much does a website cost?" To which my response is, "Well, it depends...".
It doesn't matter on which side of the potential transaction you're sitting - purchaser or site developer - the question is valid. And in such a new medium, there are no real guidelines. Some developers will charge by the hour, whilst others will charge a "project fee".
They asked a number of site developers in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas and Atlanta to submit bids on hypothetical "small", "medium" and "large" websites. The variations were astonishing, ranging from $10,325 for a "small" site from a firm in Dallas to over $90,000 for the same site from a firm in San Francisco.
This full survey results make fascinating reading, and the overall design (frame-free) of the site gives a good idea of the kind of standard of design I suspect NetMarketing was looking for.
Their homepage is horrible - *H4* text on a revolting turquoise background. A glance at the HTML revealed heaps of redundant code and no real sensibility as to what HTML is capable of.
This company also offers site promotion and a selection of "business opportunities", which sound suspiciously like MLM's.
Once again, you get what you pay for... --John Blower
I had always wondered why the giants of Japanese consumer electronics - like Sony - weren't making computers by the container-load for export over here.
The answer was admirably summed up by my friend Virginia (who, incidentally, was part of the Project Team for Infoseek Japan).
"Computers," she said, "don't speak Japanese. They speak English."
Collapse of stout party.
Nonetheless, I heard on the radio the other day that Sony is once again venturing into the realm of Personal Computers. We shall see...
In the meantime, there's no doubt that Japan is still a formidable economic and consumer power, despite its recent economic woes. With the highest rate of saving and investment in the developed world, Japanese consumers wield considerable clout. And once their archaic import laws are relaxed - as, inevitably they will be - Japan will be ready and willing to suck up American goods and services.
However, Japanese websites, in my experience are - well, WEIRD.
Should you wish to tiptoe into this market, Shigeru Kaneko's Advisory services & Translation for building business in Japan can help you find trading partners in Japan.
As Shigero-san puts it:
"We are a consulting firm in Japan have often been asked by foreign companies either to become their marketing dealer or to sell their products or services through the Internet. There should be many demands from English speaking companies looking for partners in countries speaking with the other language.
We have decided, in trial, to provide a Japanese Web page on which companies seeking "partners" will be listed by request and from which their homepages can be linked without charge.
We would like to see whether it will help them find "partners" and contribute to our business since the Internet in Japan has just begun to be used for various business.
Please access: http://www.bekkoame.or. jp/~kanekos/sellworld.html
This is an experimental free service."
Why not? I'm off there right now... --John Blower
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