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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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March 13, 1998

Web Bloat

The notion of "bloatware" is not new, our chum the Gorilla from Redmond being the primary offender in this respect.

But it seems to us that the phenomenon is increasingly infecting the Web, in the form of large, unwieldy sites which take an age to load. Like this page from Artura Design & Development , which sports several nice, fat juicy images each of which weighs in at a hefty 100k+. As suppliers of "innovative web design", they really should know better...

"Web bloat" is attributable to four factors:

  • Unnecessary markup
  • Image files being larger than necessary
  • Multiple copies of the same image within a site
  • Space (and time) consuming bells and whistles

(You can find an admirable e xposition on this topic at Phundria, "Scotland's first online lampoon magazine".)

So what? you may ask. We've all got fast modems, local unlimited calls and unlimited Web access, haven't we?

Apart from the general requirement for a site operator to be user-centric in both the provision of information and the design and architecture of their site(s), in the UK, for example, all calls are metered.

Indeed, some UK service providers are now placing restrictions on outbound bandwidth consumed by their non commercial customers. If you exceed the limit on some sites, you're told either to shut down or go commercial. On other providers, you get shut down for a day.

While we expect the UK telecom model to emulate the US one, in the shorter-term, most non-US telecoms meter all calls. And as the Web reaches saturation in the US (the rate of increase has already started to slow), so more and more people from "the Rest of the World" will be looking at your handiwork...

--John Blower

March 12, 1998



Peapod is one of a growing army of "home-oriented" service organizations (which seem to be particularly prevalent in the Boston area).

Essentially, the company contracts with local supermarkets, receives your order online, and delivers the goods to your door. This is the kind of service for which the Web is tailor made - you can place your order at any time of the day or night, specify brands and so forth.

Convenience is the name of the game, which makes this type of operation a boon for working parents, those with irregular schedules, or simply those (like us) who can't bear the thought of actually going to the supermarket.

Of course, one pays a premium for this kind of service, so we would ask ourselves whether or not Peapod will survive once the current rosy economic picture loses its lustre...

Interestingly enough, we found the Peapod site through a promotional floppy.


On the face of it, one would have thought that accountants would have recognized the utilitarian function of the Web and have been in the forefront of using it.

After all, for most of us here in the US, the need to communicate with an accountant is but once a year. And, in general, such information as needs to be conveyed doesn't need a face-to-face.

We picked - at random - a firm based in California. Their site was an execise in futility - it looks as if they have a site "because they should".

Instead of offering up-to-the-minute tax hints, a ready-reckoner and the invitation to receive files via FTP on a secure server, we have nothing more than a rather amateurish online brochure.

The company would have spent its money better by concentrating on traditional advertising and promotion, offering FTP to its existing client base and slowly establishing a web presence through regular, timely updates of information.

Utility is the key to successful exploitation of the New Medium.

--John Blower

March 12, 1998

Hold That Thought!

Regular eaders will be aware that we generaly frown upon the use of animation, elaborate graphics and other "kewl" gew-gaws on sites.

Not that we're Luddites by any stretch of the imagination. Far from it - our Web design philosophy may be summed up as "progressive, pragmatic conservatism"...

No, it is our belief that designers who incorporate devices such as those mentioned above suffer from a fundamental misunderstanding of the New Medium. In short, they seem to confuse it with TV.

TV is a mass medium. It is a pure "push" medium. It is often viewed by groups of two or more. Even more frequently, it serves as a kind of "visual wallpaper" - passive viewing is common.

Designers for TV, therefore, compete for attention with a variety of distractions. Flashy graphics and elaborate effects serve to draw TV from peripheral vision to full attention - time and time again.

The Web, on the other hand, is - and will remain - a "pull" medium. One doesn't find one's way to a site by accident (cf "channel surfing). Indeed, the site one views is nothing more than a collection of zeroes and ones on a server until one enters the address.

Using the Web, what's more, is essentially a solitary activity (ever tried surfing with another person?.

The need to attract attention on the Web, therefore, is non-existent.

In our view, this calls for restrained use of graphics, no animation and the provision of solid information.

Hold that thought!

--John Blower

Click On Our Sponsors

March 11, 1998

Local Markets

By way of Iconocast, we were interested to receive the latest Media Audit from Holly Williams of International Demographics.

International Demographics surveys 84 U.S. cities by randomly dialing 800-2,000 households in each metro area. Based on a cumulative population of 34.8 million users, it's now possible to create a "Net development index," a permutation of the BDI (brand development index).

The table below ranks the top 10 markets by NDI. This index makes it easier to see that the top market, Madison, has 61 percent more Net users than the national average, which is 100 [Omaha is average]. The reason why small towns index so well is due to their proximity to major educational institutions.

Rank Metro Market Area Total Online % Index
1. Madison 309,000 150,000 49% 161
2. Washington, DC 3,219,000 1,452,000 45% 150
3. Austin, TX 763,000 331,000 43% 144
4. Columbia-Jefferson City 149,000 64,000 43% 143
5. San Jose 1,219,000 500,000 41% 136
6. Boston 2,997,000 1,202,000 40% 133
7. San Francisco 4,983,000 1,885,000 38% 126
8. Dallas/Ft Worth 3,245,000 1,201,000 37% 123
9. Raleigh/Durham 794,000 288,000 36% 120
10. Denver 1,587,000 574,000 36% 120

==> International Demographics, Holly Williams 212.995.2639

--John Blower

March 09, 1998


Launched a couple of weeks ago, DevShed is a veritable cornucopia of tools and resources for site developers and designers.

The two major areas for goodies at the site are Tools and Resources. The former features two new additions, ClipScripts and PHP/FI.

ClipScripts is a searchable database of hundreds of cut-and-paste Javascript, Perl and PHP/FI scripts.

PHP/FI is a free server-side scripting language. Documentation, tutorials, and script examples for PHP/FI are now available in the Advanced Resources section of DevShed. PHP/FI code embedded in HTML documents performs tasks usually accomplished by CGI applications written in Perl or C++.

The site itself can be described as "perky". If you're running short on ideas, we suggest you check it out.

--John Blower

LinkExchange Member

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

Check out the Archives....180 Weeks of Back Issues including:

Feb 23, 1998
  • Domain Chaos
  • Cunning Stunts
  • Malls
  • CyberSitter II
Feb 23, 1998
  • The Times
  • Meta Small
  • Correction
  • Flabbergasted
Feb 16, 1998
  • Nobody Told Them
  • The 5 Cs
  • One Seek
  • Take No Prisoners
Feb 09, 1998
  • Martha Stewart
  • Tenagra Awards
  • Interactive Email
  • Zero 1
  • Media-ocrity
Feb 02, 1998
  • Link Info
  • Recruiting Design
  • Were They Thinking?
Jan 26, 1998
  • What's In It 4 Me
  • Global Reach
  • Deadly Sites
  • Accomodating Design
Jan 19, 1998
  • It's Local
  • Dodgy Data
  • Elementary?
  • Novices
Jan 12, 1998
  • Communities
  • Is It Worth It?
  • Luncheon Meat
  • Web Rings
  • Marketing With Titles
Jan 05, 1998
  • Holiday Greetings
  • Website Garage
  • AArgh!
  • Year End Forecasts
Dec 21, 1997
  • Surveys
  • Communications Arts
  • Daily Brief
  • Click Trade
Dec 14, 1997
  • Whose Eyeballs?
  • NPR
  • Cool Tools
  • Hamsters?
Dec 07, 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
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