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industry is on
the verge of
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of new technologies.
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Shop 'til You Drop, Man!
By combining the results of two recent studies, it's possible to create a profile of the stereotypical online shopper.
Somewhat surprisingly, he's a white American MAN.
According to a report from Forrester Research, the US leads the global e.commerce market, with Germany, the UK, Japan and Canada its nearest challengers.
The report, Law, Regulation, and the Internet, rates the e.commerce potential of 45 countries based on market size, technology penetration, and political climate.
Says Bob Chatham, senior analyst with Forrester's Leadership Strategies service and author of the report:
"While countries like the US and Japan set the pace for deploying e.commerce, we found that other traditionally strong economies - namely France, Italy and Australia - risk being left behind.
"Business leaders should look to wired smaller markets like Finland, Sweden and New Zealand for a glimpse of the future reach of e.commerce."
In The Online Retail Commerce Report from market research company Binary Compass Enterprises, male computer users account for 79 percent of shoppers on the Internet.
This was one of the surprising conclusions of the worldwide survey, said Farhad Mohit, president and chief executive officer of Binary Compass Enterprises.
"Other Internet studies have shown that more and more women are coming online," he said, "but that's not translated to Web shoppers."
The typical online shopper is a college-educated 38-year-old Caucasian male with an annual salary of $75,000, the report said. Men also spend almost double on the Internet compared with women -- $176 vs. $93.
For either sex, the most important criterion for merchants is to deliver goods to customers on time, the study said.
If you are selling goods online, this is currently your target market, although we expect this profile to change over time to more accurately reflect the "real" world. --John Blower
But still, learning the language can be a hassle.
To the rescue comes the ever-resourceful Hal Pawluk.
Hal has assembled a number of scripts covering such areas as:
You can find the scripts and an easy-to-use tutorial (it's basically cut 'n' paste) at:
(That's the page which has the annoying drum roll...)
Thanks, Hal. --John Blower
"New sites, both business and personal, all seem to start (well, not all, but certainly most) in the same place.
They try to build a Coooooool site. Lots of black screens with big, graphic-designer- portfolio graphics having little or nothing to do with either marketing or their business.
The sites are so cool nobody can find anything on them and they do more damage than good to the public image of the company they were built to help. Do you really want 'cool' from the company that supplies your pacemaker?
Next comes the second phase of the project. The site is barren of both traffic and results. Only a small portion of the visitors drill down to even the second level of the site, and nothing good is seen to come from being on the web.
The decision is made to hire a different group of consultants to 'fix' the problem that was created by the group of consultants hired by the late marketing manager.
The new person tasked to 'fix the web site' will take a different direction based on his/her background.
The most likely second phase is to hire a more expensive graphic designer that is not a cousin of anyone in the company. This designer will immediately see that the entire problem can be traced to the failure by the 'untrained designer you hired last time' to include all the major food groups on the home page graphic.
More, brighter, bigger graphics throughout the site. It literally glows in the dark even with the monitor off.
Company exits web muttering 'The web is populated by nerds and geeks who have no sense of taste. If we have to play down to their level, I'd rather get off the web!'
If the unlucky new 'webmaster' is the IS manager, a group of programmers will be hired to develop a technically more sophisticated site with lots of bells and whistles and make a few minor changes to the graphics of the late site.
This site, created by the soon-to-be-late IS manager will dazzle everyone but the visitors to the site. Company exits web with moans of 'See, I knew nobody was making any money on the Internet.'
The third, and least likely scenario, is the decision to put a task force together from the company to learn about the web and implement a plan.
This group first talks to some graphics people, then some programmers, and then, finally, some people who have actually built effective web sites that meet their stated goals.
This last group are known as webmasters. Together with a qualified webmaster they will build a site with a simple and obvious navigation theme, fast and relevant graphics, and lots and lots of content.
The site will be a hit because it delivers on its promise: information at your finger-tips presented in a friendly, professional environment by a company that cares about you and your patronage.
These are the sites that 'make it' and we see all over the web in far too limited a number. The site will hang around for a long time, not because it is aging and needs to be changed, but rather because it works. Instead of blindly rebuilding their site for no apparent reason, they are busy reaping the benefits of swelling traffic counts, and cashing lots of checks.
This is not a new concept. Companies have always made the same mistakes mentioned above in their marketing on TV, radio, print, and collateral materials. The handful of startups that last through the burning out process of free enterprise business are the ones that last long enough to get it right.
On the web it is just more visible to more people. And we know about 'web years', right?" --John Blower
When Push Comes to Shove
"Push technology" is the latest buzzphrase. This is the use of browser-based software which wanders the Web and gathers news from your favorite websites. It can also download entire sites for your offline viewing pleasure.
Great. Web users get a further level of control over the specifics of the content they view, while lucky site proprietors build up a captive audience of viewers.
What's wrong with this picture?
"Getting information" is one thing. But how long before the strictly informational content of the subject areas you specify is dwarfed by the requirements of advertisers who are paying for all this? Pretty soon, all we'll be downloading will be the web equivalent of infomercials. And supposing you don't know what you're looking for? One of the delights of riffling through an archaic card index at the library was the serendipitous discovery of a completely new area of knowledge, completely unrelated to the information one was seeking.
That's the way one developed a breadth of knowledge rather than simply depth in one narrow area.
Don't get us wrong - we're not Luddites. But it behooves us to be judicious in our use of the latest technological marvel delivered to our desktops courtesy of Silicon Valley. --John Blower
In the early 70's, as part of a teacher training course, I first learned about MindMaps.
They were developed in the late 60s by Tony Buzan as a way of helping students make notes that used only key words and images. They are much quicker to make, and because of their visual quality much easier to remember and review.
The non-linear nature of mind maps makes it easy to link and cross-reference different elements of the map -- which is why hypertext was developed for computers (again initially by a student wanting to make note-taking easier).
This is a useful technique to explore when starting site architecture. We usually use index cards - with broad topics written on them - spread all over the floor. In that way, you are able to get a visual representation of the way your putative site will hang together.
Buzan has also developed twelve bas ic techniques for remembering things. They can also be points to bear in mind when structuring content for a site.
In essence, they boil down to linking the content you want your audience to remember to two things: sex and humor.
People like to laugh - and they remember things that inspire laughter.
And as for sex... --John Blower
Take a look at the Archives. We've indexed all the past issues with topic pointers.
All material on this site is © 1995, 1996 by IBN (The Internet Business Network), Mill Valley, CA 94941