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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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December 11, 1997


In a recent article in ClickZ Today, Rob Frankel waxed lyrical about the absurdity of some site owners changing their sites every few weeks or so (we believe the phrase he used was "as often as I change my socks").

He likened them to hamsters. Inexplicably...

Rob does, however, raise a good point. Far too many sites are seemingly changed with almost regularly boring frequency. The effect is to disorient frequent visitors, and, if the change is too radical and introduces the latest and greatest gew-gaws, can positively alieante them.

A site's homepage is like a corporate logo. Of course, corporate logos undergo radical changes every few years - but not as often as we tend to think.

In fact, the very best logos undergo subtle changes, which, on a year to year basis, are almost undetectable. Over time, however, we can see that the logo has undergone remarkable and noticeable development.

Think, for example, of the Mercedes-Benz logo. Compare the 1998 version with the 1932 version. The essential elements have remained constant, but their manifestations are very different indeed.

So it should be, we believe, with homepage design. Improvement and innovation are to be lauded. But they should be introduced in such an incremental way as to be unnoticeable on a day-to-day basis.

This assumes, of course, that the design of your homepage is sound, simple, inspiring and unambiguous in the first place... --John Blower

December 10, 1997

Cool Tools

Introducing interactivity to a site often means wrestling with cumbersome CGI scripts or tackling Java from scratch.

But now from Riada comes RiadaForm. Using RiadaForm's intuitive Windows based interface, you simply insert the fields that will appear in your form and specify an eMail address the data will be submitted to. Simple, eh?

In fact, this is the latest in a series of Java based products from Riada, which include:


  • RiadaLock, a web tool that allows you to limit web site access to authorized visitors;
  • RiadaLinx, which provides a fast and convenient way of creating and maintaining links, and
  • RiadaHeadline which adds news to your web site.

All these tools are modestly priced and seem to be simple to imlement. We suggest you check them out.

Whilst being aware of the phenomenon of "updrag". "Updrag" is the opposite of "upgrade", and is admirably discussed by Dale Dougherty, Publisher of the excellent Web Review.

Dale argues that there exists a very real tension between site developers who want to take advantage of the latest and greatest tools and browser capabilities, and users who may be quite content with v1.0.

In the case of Riada, for example, if a significant proportion of your site visitors are using non-Java browsers (or have Java turned off - which, of course, you can't know), then you are likely to discourage repeat visits.

We advise a certain measure of conservatism in all aspects of site design and architecture. Whilst one wouldn't want to get left behind, neither does one want to be "cutting edge" if your audience falls within the broad swathe of "regular users". --John Blower

December 09, 1997

Whose Eyeballs?

If you carry banner ads on your site, or use banner ads to promote your own site, you are probably confident that, when a page carrying a banner is downloaded, the banner itself is displayed.

This is a reasonable premise, and the one upon which all Web advertising is based. The business model assumes advertising can be embedded into the original content at source instead of adding it to the content at the point of delivery.

Peter Bull, Director of DVP Media, Brisbane, Australia suggests, somewhat provocatively, that this may not necessarily be the case in future.

He posits a situation whereby an ISP offers free, unlimited dial-up to everyone within a given geographical area. In exchange, customers agree to use a customized browser supplied by the ISP. The browser is configured to display local advertising messages in the non-client areas of the screen while they are online.

Essentially, this is the "free newspaper" model, whereby the revenue generated from advertising exceeds the costs of printing and distribution.

Of course, the ISP can't be certain of catching every single embedded ad. However, (for example) would be a safe bet, and standard search engine pages and other major sites have designated slots that could easily be marked.

The result, Bull opines, would be customer-defined content married to local, relevant advertising, and, inevitably, faster download as ads would be loaded from a local cache.

This is a model in which "ownership" of viewers' eyeballs is transferred from the publisher (point of origin) to the ISP (point of delivery). Bull claims further, that this model is currently being tested (presumably in Australia).

This is a provocative view with significant implications for both advertisers and publishers.

For publishers, it potentially removes what can be a lucrative source of revenue, and reduces them to mere providers of free content.

For advertisers, it serves to reinforce the essentially "local" nature of the Web.

And for brokers - like Doubleclick it represents a significant departure from current business practices.

And we wondered why the Redmond Gorilla wanted WebTV... --John Blower

December 08, 1997


We're addicted to National Public Radio.

We have it on in the background as a kind of "aural wallpaper". The BBC World Service fades in and out (with news of the latest global disaster which somehow escaped the attention of the US media), and Terry Gross always manages to coax the best from her guests.

The site works because it complements and adds to the "on-air" experience. Sure, you can download the news in Real Audio or even NetShow, but that's not the point.

The homepage downloads quickly and easily. The NPR logo (hats off to whoever designed it) is distinctive, recognizable and interesting. It has a lot going for it.

Use of complex color and images is limited, and there are warnings about the size of the images of their presenters (we weren't put off by a 59K Terry Gross image, but it was nice to know what we were getting into....). You may feel differently.

Even the use of Java is tastefully restrained - on the homepage it's restricted to a clock (it's a news station) and a rotating ad. Which is not at all intrusive.

Navigation, after "home" is executed through buttons at the top of each page. The title of the page you are on "blinks". But not annoyingly. The buttons are suitably complemented by links at the bottom of the page. Which is about a screen in length.

Check out this site, even if you're not a fan. The elegant simplicity is a lesson in good site design.

And we're head over heels with Sylvia Poggioli.... --John Blower

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

Check out the Archives....160 Weeks of Back issues including:

Nov 30, 1997
  • Color Of Money
  • Resources
  • Search Engine Tuneup
  • Nice Makeover
  • European Design
Nov 30, 1997
  • Color Of Money
  • Resources
  • Search Engine Tuneup
  • Nice Makeover
  • European Design
Nov 30, 1997
  • Site Design
  • Statistics
  • Semi Free
  • Thanksgiving
  • Visitors
Nov 23, 1997
  • Easy Shopping
  • Great Content Wins
  • "Skinny" Graphics
  • Site Design
  • Net Mailer
Nov 16, 1997
  • Another Email Tool
  • Using Print
  • Free Site TuneUp
  • Oh, Dear
Nov 09, 1997
  • OLAF
  • Whose Advantage?
  • Close - No Cigar
  • Curioser and Curioser
  • Is Anybody There?
Complete Indexed Archives(36 months of marketing and design) Complete Indexed Archives(36 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