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The advertising
industry is on
the verge of
being shattered
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
Michael Strangelove

Advertising is
one of the minor
arts, so don't
be intimidated
by it. Try
not to lose
your sense of
Keep it fun.
Robert Bly

is more
it seems.
John Gall

The System
is its own
John Gall

It's better to
do a few things
really well than
than to do
a lot of things
If you can't
make the necessary
commitments of
time and energy
to your
scale back
your plan.
John Sumser


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April 11, 1997


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

April 10, 1997

Free Stuff!

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 Room

The 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 Assistance

There 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

April 09, 1997

Rumble in the Jungle 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

April 08, 1997

Engine Update

Here's the lowdown on Search Engines...

Technically, Yahoo is not a search engine because it will not visit your web page. Its information on your site is derived from the data you submit. Each submission is reviewed by a "real human". :) Yahoo ranks a keyword search based on these criteria...
1. Yahoo categories containing the keyword
2. sites with the keyword in their title
3. sites with the keyword in their description
Limit your description to *10* words!

Keyword searches are based on these criteria...
1. Keywords are in the title or in the first few words of your web page.
2. Keywords are close to one another in your page.
3. Keywords are used more than once in your page.
Capitalize any keywords that the searcher may capitalize when searching for your site.

Searches favor sites with keywords in the title and then in the text of the site. It also favors keywords that are contained in complete sentences.

Pages with keywords in the title and then in the text are given preference. Hotbot also uses meta tags.

Pages with keywords at the beginning of the page or in the title do well. Pages with a high frequency of keywords in the text of the page also tend to rank higher.

Gives priority to pages with keywords in the title and early in the text of your site.

Pages that match all keywords are listed first and then those that match any keywords. Within these groups, pages with more frequent use of keywords within a page are listed first. It also uses the "concentration" of keywords within a page.

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

April 07, 1997


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...).

There's a great list of ossified sites at Ghostsites of the Web, a subdivision of the Netly News - a site that's worth an hour or so of aimless clicking, despite it being part of Time/Warner...

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.

Check out the Archives....90 Weeks of Back issues including:

Week Ending April 13, 1997 Including:
  • Layout
  • JavaDoubler
  • Integration
  • Website Pricing
  • Japan
Week Ending April 06, 1997 Including:
  • Speed
  • JavaDoubler
  • Integration
  • Website Pricing
  • Japan
Week Ending March 30, 1997 Including:
  • Germany
  • Banner Ads
  • Reasons to Send PR
  • 20/20 Hindsight
  • UFO Cult: Bad Design
Week Ending March 23, 1997 Including:
  • The Other 51%
  • We Wuz Framed
  • Bandwidth
  • Bad Design
  • Sling Shot
Week Ending March 16, 1997 Including:
  • Look Ma, No CGI
  • Banner Ads Revisited
  • Submission Wizzard
  • Labels Up to Scratch?
  • WebTV
Week Ending March 09, 1997 Including:
  • Cheap PR
  • Hard Copies
  • Ad Innovations
  • Don't Do This
  • Design Targets
Week Ending March 02, 1997 Including:
  • Web Balkanization
  • Mini Malls
  • Liars and Statistics
  • Multiple Search
Week Ending February 22, 1997 Including:
  • Direct Marketing World
  • Columbo, Not Just Yogurt
  • New HTTP Spec Speeds Net
  • All 4 One Search
Week Ending February 16, 1997 Including:
  • Finding Images
  • The Mining Co
  • Search Engine Stuff
  • Denounce
  • Weekend Reading
Week Ending February 09, 1997 Including:
  • Webmaster Secrets
  • New Search Engine Services
  • Learning From Others' Mistakes II
  • Learning From Others' Mistakes
  • Weekend Reading
Week Ending February 02, 1997 Including:
  • Purpose First
  • Ad Auction
  • 123 Domain Me
  • Publicity
  • Weekend Reading
Week Ending January 26, 1997 Including:
  • Drowning In Links
  • Ad Tutorial
  • Internet News
  • Cookies
  • Weekend Reading
Week Ending January 19, 1997 Including:
  • Finding Online Marketing Info
  • Microscope
  • Promotion Tools
  • Bad Form Email
  • Weekend Reading
Week Ending January 12, 1997 Including:
  • Ad Placement
  • Oooops
  • Odd Bedfellows
  • Advertising Advice
  • Weekend Reading
Complete Indexed Archives(19 months of marketing and design) Complete Indexed Archives(19 months of marketing and design)

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