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industry is on
the verge of
into a thousand
fragments due to
the knowledge explosion
and the proliferation
of new technologies.
There are no
more grand theories
that hold sway
over the entire
It's better to
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As regular reader of this column will have realized, the (mis)use of frames on pages is my particular bête-noire.
An alternative to the use of frames is to use tables as a layout device.
Both of these devices evolved because of the limitations of HTML. HTML is, as the name implies, a mark-up language. It was originally developed to impart attributes to text on a screen - bold, italic etc. The limitations of the language were apparent in early Webpages - text was aligned left on a gray background. They were VERY BORING, but such was the novelty of the medium that no-one seemed to mind.
As a way of extending HTML's layout options, both frames and tables were developed, and are recognized by most - but by no means all - browsers.
IMHO, frames have been largely used appallingly. Many designers seem to be unaware of the enormous amount of screen space taken up my multiple scroll bars. The ability to display multiple pages also suffers at the hands of those who build the subsidiary pages either too wide or too deep.
Nonetheless, when used properly - for example, at the newly-revamped Times of London site - they can enhance the viewer's ability to navigate seamlessly between blocks of information.
There's a good resource on using frames effectively at the Guide to Frames Usage page.
Personally, I prefer to use tables to place text on the page. They can be a hassle, but they are inherently stable, and, through use of percentages in the TABLE WIDTH tag (eg TABLE WIDTH="90%" as opposed to a fixed pixel value TABLE WIDTH="550"), are able to accommodate varying monitor and browser window widths.
The major problem is that most browsers load the contents of the table before display, so if you load up with a lot of text or large images, they can take some time to load.
Perhaps it's time for the pendulum to swing back to left-aligned text on a gray background... --John Blower
The good guys at OakNet Publishing are now offering free access to the listserver they use to distribute The OakNet News. Subscribers are invited to use it to send out their own newsletters and to automate the process of subscribing new readers from their Websites.
This *free service* will completely release you from the mechanics of distribution and list management so you can concentrate on what you know best: the content of your business message.
Oaknet are also set up to provide you with autoresponders and email based discussion groups. A public discussion group that covers a subject relevant to your company can be a great way to introduce new customers to your services.
(Very) small catch: you are obliged to place ads for OakNet Publishing in your outgoing mails.
You can check out the details at: http://www.oaknetpub.c om/MailServices/welcome.html
Free Chat RoomThe ParaLogic Corp offers free chat rooms for your Web site.
The chat rooms require a java enabled browser. They are, by all accounts, very easy to set up. You simply fill out a short form, copy 5 lines of html in to a Web page and then upload that Web page on to the server that hosts your Web site.
ParaLogic claims you can complete the whole process in 30 seconds if you're quick about it.
Your chat room will contain ads for paraChat but they don't interfere too much and given the price it's hard to complain. One nice feature of the chat room is that your comments are added to the chat immediately upon hitting return - you don't have to wait for the page to reload as you do with non-java chat rooms. There's also a button called "Float" that opens a new window for your chat room on your desktop.
Free Web Page AssistanceThere is a near endless selection of pages on the Net designed to help all of us with our Web publishing efforts. But sometimes what you really want is a real person who will take a few minutes to answer a specific question or help you find a particular resource.
Bill Friend has bravely offered to lend a helping hand to anyone who is working on their own Web page.
He'll answer questions on html, graphics, Web site promotion, forms, banners and more.
I haven't personally taken advantage of this service, so I don't know the level of advice on offer. Still...
Oh yes, you are also "given the opportunity" to purchase his book covering the same subjects.
Free Mac Extension (for a change...)Here's a nifty little Mac extension that allows you to save or print sections of a Web page.
You can, of course, print or save an entire Web page using just your browser. But a lot of times all you want is a specific piece of information on the page.
Once you've installed Net-Print it's easy to select a part of a Web page and print out that alone. You just highlight the section you wish to print and choose "Print Selection" from the Net-Print icon in your menu bar. Net-Print can also save a section of a Web page on your desktop.
That's all. --John Blower
Rumble in the Jungle
Amazon.com Books is often held up as a prime example of a successful online business. With millions of titles in stock, and seemingly every other website sporting an Amazon Books banner, the company has become ubiquitous.
Web entrepreneurs may choose to emulate the Amazon business model - which is, in essence, that of Sir Jack Cohen (founder of Britain's second-largest supermarket chain, Tesco) - "Pile 'em high and sell 'em cheap!"
On the other hand, you may wish to generate income through your site by displaying an Amazon banner and collecting a commission on books sold through your site.
Both sides of the equation are examined by Philip Greenspun as part of his comprehensive article So You Want to Join the World's Grubbiest Club: Internet Entrepreneurs.
As usual, there's more - or less - to Amazon than meets the eye, as the company may well discover when its shares go on sale later this spring. The offering may well be greeted by a skeptical Wall Street community that's in no mood to take chances in this season of Internet discontent.
Phil's page on Internet Entrepreneurs is part of a much larger site entitled Web Tools Review, which is a pretty thorough look at the ins and out of web publishing, including an extensive look at the use of photographs, tips and hints on using various configurations of hardware and software and so on.
Well worth a look. --John Blower
Here's the lowdown on Search Engines...
NOTE: All search engines now say that they penalize for "Word spamming" on web sites.....that is just listing keywords numerous times back to back simply to try to "deceive" the search engines.
So now you know. --John Blower
The need to revitalise your site is essential in this medium. Otherwise why would anyone come back?
I happened to revisit the Rolling Stones site the other week. Boring. Same as it was a few months ago.
Why would I go back?
Same with The Internet Phonecard Center, which I've ben monitoring since last August ('96), having thought it was a super idea. Unfortunately, the imprecation to "Bookmark this site!" is still in place with no sign of there being anything to bookmark (other than a rather spiffy logo...).
The impetus to revisit a site is dependant upon its willingness and ability to deliver new and meaningful information in a compelling format.
Just like this one.
So how often should you revise your site's content? Opinions vary, but I would say monthly AT LEAST. The trick is to have a site which is large enough and graphically interesting enough to encourage visitors to return in order to explore further.
Remember, content is king. If you don't have anything new or interesting to say at your site, simply don't say it.
Or gussy it up with frames... --John Blower
Take a look at the Archives. We've indexed all the past issues with topic pointers.
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