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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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© 1995. 1996. 1997 by IBN



Click OK to receive our occasional Newsletter

July 31, 1997

Too Good to be True?

The eMail certainly raised a laugh in the office.

SureSite, based in Columbus OH, assured us that "The Instant Web Publisher...enables anyone with a web browser to create a professional looking business web site in less than 10 minutes..."

Yikes! If only we'd known! We could have avoided floors covered with index cards...spouses and children begging for attention while we tried just one more time to "fix that table"...

The mail got better:

"The Instant Web Publisher requires no knowledge of HTML programming [sic] or graphic design. The Instant Web Publisher features thousands of combinations of graphics and layouts to make everyone's web site unique and professional looking..."

Our resident graphic designer rued his years at college and his apprenticeship in the Academy of Hard Knocks.

Seriously, however, the pitch was a blatant come-on for an ISP. A visit to the site bore the thumbprint of HomeSite 2.5. The "professsional looking" site is simply selected from a number of templates and adds in some mix'n'match graphics.

But it begs the question as to how far the level of professionalism one brings to one's site is degraded by pitches such as this.

Design - and in particular graphic design - is the art of presenting information to the best possible advantage. It must simultaneously engage, stimulate and inform. It requires a rapport between professional and client.

And, in the case of the Web, a thorough understanding of the limitations of the medium.

Those of us who are concerned to maintain high standards of Web design must be angered and disturbed by claims such as these. --John Blower

July 30, 1997

Who's Pushing Whom?

According to a recent bulletin from Hurwitz Group, "...most Internet users do not need push technology...".

The bulletin makes the point that only a small proportion of people stand to benefit from "pushed", time-critical information, whilst email and phone will prove adequate for the majority of workers.

We find ourselves in agreement with Hurwitz.

After all, do you want to be interrupted every few moments by a fragment of information on a topic in which you were interested a few months or weeks ago?

We may even get to the point of being somewhat aggravated by both the message and the messenger.

While "push" has been hailed as the ultimate web application (for the next month or so...), we wonder whether a lot of the hype is generated by those who appear to benefit. In the short term.

Let's face it, only a minority of people - and a very small minority at that - have jobs or occupations which are totally dependent upon the prompt delivery of time-sensitive material.

In fact, as Hurwitz points out, "push technology will be most useful for delivering, upgrading and managing software within organizations at a lower cost."

Look before you leap before jumping on this particular bandwagon. --John Blower

July 29, 1997

"According to a Recent Poll...

"...many sites rely more on Search Engines than ads."

Presumably to generate traffic.

A company based in Chicago, NetGambit, apparently surveyed a "cross section of about [sic] 1500 site owners" for a survey.

The study, by all accounts, demonstrated that "...more than 70% of the participants said they generate at least 20% of their traffic from search-engine listings, with the balance coming from advertising and other forms of promotions, repeat visitors and other sources."

This seemed pretty self-evident. Still, we duly visited the NetGambit site to garner some information on the survey. Like how were the lucky 1500 selected, and what methodology was employed.

Nary a word about the survey did we find.

What we did find, however, was a large pointer to PositionAgent. PositionAgent is a search engine ranking and monitoring service, developed by...NetGambit

It's a pretty nifty service. Feed in your URL and a few keywords, and within seconds, your ranking in the major search engines is displayed graphically.

You can try for free, but you need a subscription to use the service regularly. The site is, incidentally, packed with tips on how to improve your rankings in the search engines, so it's worth checking out.

However, we have to question the validity of such an obviously self-serving "poll" in the absence of data to support the apparent finding.

We're open to clarification on this point. --John Blower

July 28, 1997


No, we're not talking about those acrimonious conferences that Judge Ito, Marcia Clark and Johnnie Cochran engaged in during the OJ trial.

Rather we're referring to those bands of color that adorn the left-hand sides of (far too many) pages these days.

We wonder who invented them...

By far the most ubiquitous is the yellow sidebar favored by c|net. It seems to crop up everywhere, from Macmillan Publishing to well - you know who...

There's nothing inherently wrong with them, of course.

But let's take a quick look at how they are used, and to what purpose.

Sometimes the bar is used simply stylistically. There might, of course be an attempt to make a subliminal association with another well-known site...

In these cases navigation and content are divorced from the bar, and architecture and functionality aren't really affected.

Navigation Bar
Other sites use the yellow bar (or expand into new color territory) solely for a navigation bar, with varying degrees of success.

Who Cares?
These cases are where site information architecture suffers the most. Macmillan, for example, seems to want their bar to be all things to all users -- in its incarnation on the main page, it's fairly functional but as a user wades through the site it becomes increasingly unwieldy.

As a stylistic and design device, the sidebar has a lot going for it. But only if it is supported by a firm architectural foundation.

In other news, it's always gratifying to see our advice heeded. A site we mentioned last week, Wordswork, appears to have undergone a make-over. Ticker tape and annoying rotating icons have disappeared.

And there's a sidebar... --John Blower

Take a look at the Archives. We've indexed all the past issues with topic pointers.

Check out the Archives....130 Weeks of Back issues including:

July 27, 1997
  • Talking The Talk
  • Modest Proposal
  • eMail Ads
  • Mark Me Up
July 20, 1997
  • Silence
  • WordsWork
  • Ugly
  • Video Banners
  • Virii
July 13, 1997
  • Some Print Resources
  • Security Breach
  • Bits and Pieces
  • Domain Confusion
  • Caxtonian Thinking...
July 06, 1997
  • Not Rocket Science
  • Money for Junque
  • Slow, Quick, Slow
  • WEBTV?
  • Cookie Cutter
June 29, 1997
  • Interoperability
  • Marketing Resource
  • Confereces
  • Industrial Strength Ideas
June 22, 1997
  • Promote One
  • Europa
  • Design Resource
  • Media Kits
  • Style Sheets
Week Ending June 15, 1997
  • Using eMail
  • New Morality
  • Odds 'n' Sods
  • Fast Modems
  • Which Search Engne
June 08, 1997
  • Events
  • Hard Copies
  • Banning Junque
  • Another Survey
  • Networds
June 01, 1997
  • Shop Til You Drop
  • Coffee Time
  • Jaundiced
  • Push To Shove
May 25, 1997
  • Microscope
  • Gadfly
  • Marketing Your Site
Complete Indexed Archives(24 months of marketing and design) Complete Indexed Archives(24 months of marketing and design)

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