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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
industry.
Michael Strangelove


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



Reality
is more
complex
than
it seems.
John Gall



The System
is its own
best
explanation.
John Gall



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


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April 24, 1998

Taking AIIM...

AIIM (Adaptive Integrated Internet Marketing) is a workshop series developed by John Audette, founder and president of Multimedia Marketing Group. MMG is the oldest internet-exclusive promotions and public relations services company on the entire planet.

AIIM98 is a "one-day, hands-on, information-packed workshop where you will learn what works and what doesn't work for Internet marketing."

The series of seminars, focusing on how to adapt and integrate your sales and marketing efforts to the Internet, is being presented in six countries - the US, the United Kingdom, Canada, Switzerland, New Zealand and Ireland.

We were both intrigued and curious as to how we could access this veritable goldmine of tips and tricks of the trade. We thought we could incorporate a seminar with a planned trip to the UK this year.

Unfortunately, dates and locations for the UK were "to be announced"...

OK - how about the cost? Clicking on the "Register Online!" button, and taking at face value the imprecation

It's easy! It's convenient! It's
secure! Register online for
AIIM98 using our secure
registration form. Hurry
space is limited!

we found ourselves...referred to an 800 number.

Now, we have no wish to cavil at Mr Audette's content, or to cast aspersions on his undoubted ability in the area of Internet marketing.

But it's a bit, well, amateurish to launch a site which is incomplete and lacking in essential content, don't you think?

--John Blower

April 23, 1998

What You Pay For...

According to a recent, breathless headline from CNET's news.com:

Web design not what you pay for

When it comes to Web design, you may not get what you pay for.

Apparently, this was the startling revelation that "hundreds of Web developers came away with after User Interface Engineering analyst Jared [where did all these "Jared"s come from?] Spool presented findings on a Web design and information retrieval study at CNET's Web Builder conference in San Francisco."

We find ourselves in partial agreement. After all, we know plenty of people who've paid a Mercedes price for a Chevy, but very few for whom the opposite applies...

The unsurprising conclusions of this (doubtless very expensive) survey of "more than 50 users" were:

  • When it came to information retrieval, even the best of the Web sites were bad. On a scale of one to ten, none rated higher than a 4.5;
  • links were not sufficiently descriptive;
  • "site searching" was not only useless but also detrimental for information gathering: users were 50 percent more likely to find what they were looking for if they never hit the search button.
  • Web surfers don't read; instead, they skim;
  • users found animation and movement irritating, sometimes to the point that they would cover up the offending .gif with their hand.

The only result we found mildly surprising was the one which appeared to indicate that lots of "white space" disoriented users, whilst "busy" pages were perceived as authoritative.

It is made clear in the article that the research subjects were all experienced Web users. Our take is that 50 is hardly a representative sample. And our observation is that, each time Web usage doubles, average competence is halved...

The results tend to confirm the design principles to which we attempt to adhere, and, as such, are worth reading and heeding.

--John Blower

DT>April 22, 1998

Newsgroups

Using newsgroups to promote your site is fraught with danger, but can be exceedingly effective.

Being "flamed" is a constant possibility, but it can be minimized by approaching the medium in the [politically] correct manner.

The key is "added-value".

Which essentially means that your posts to your newsgroup(s) of choice should add something to the discussion thread.

Just as with eMail, there are certain conventions to be observed. Call it "netiquette" (dreadful word) if you wish.

Think about your "sig file". It should be no more than 4-6 lines. (We were roundly castigated for appending our common or garden eMail sig file to posts to a particularly fastidious group...) It's probably worth creating a special one just for newsgroup postings.

You need to share information. Advertizing in newsgroup communities (unless you're paying the community owner for the privilege, and the advertisements are clearly marked as such), is strictly infra dig, and will doubtless result in your need for multiple fire extinguishers.

Lurk before you leap. Subscribe to mailing lists for several days before joining the discussion. Look for opportunities in other people's questions where you can give a helpful answer instead of just making a plug for your site.

This type of online promotion is time extraordinarily time-consuming. But you needn't do it all yourself...

Several businesses such as USWeb Audience Development Group, Word of Net, WebPromote and others, specialize in such tactics on behalf of their clients. The marketing benefits available in some of the better forums are not only in terms of exposure but also the opportunity to learn from peers.

Check out potential newsgroups via dejanews.

But hey! Be careful out there...

--John Blower

DT>April 21, 1998

Boulevardiers Beware!

Regular readers of this column will be aware that we are no great fans of frames. True, this distaste is largely based upon their lack of aesthetic value (for the most part), and the feeling we get that, in many cases, they are used "because they can be".

We recently had the opportunity to watch a relatively sophisticated user navigate her way around Dallas.com, a "Boulevards" website, a similar idea to the "Sidewalk" series..

It's important to note that our unwitting subject was using Navigator 3.0 for Mac on a 14" monitor with 640 x 480 resolution. We suspect that this type of configuration is relatively common, so our subject's experience may be regarded as not untypical.

The major problem with the site appeared the large graphic in the bottom horizontal frame. It took up a lot of screen real estate, and served no function which could not have been better accomplished by a recurring graphical sidebar...

Content at the site was excellent. However, clicking on links which lead to further framed sites introduced a level of navigational complexity our subject found aggravating and ultimately frustrating, to the extent that she gave up in disgust.

The lesson here is that frames need to be used judiciously, and only when the demands of your content really demand them. It also helps to check your efforts in a variety of browsers and platforms, so that you see what at least a good proportion of your audience is likely to...

--John Blower

April 20, 1998

George Lois

George Lois was one of the seminal figures of modern advertising. Most Americans over the age of (say) 40 will remember with affection his series of Volkswagen ads for Bill Bernbach ("Lemon").

They may also recall his Esquire covers from the 1960s and early '70s, most notably a grinning Lieutenant Calley surrounded by Asian children.

"Creativity can solve almost any problem. The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything."

George Lois stated that a good [magazine] cover "should provoke, challenge, interest, entice, snare, grab, arouse, titillate, excite, shock, infuriate, seduce, motivate."

He was - obviously - talking about the medium of print. But we suspect his admonition would be equally applicable to the New Medium...

Indeed, in terms of Web design, we could not be in more agreement.

With the caveat, of course, that the imagery employed in any commercial communicative endeavor exists only to support the written word.

At the end of the day, your audience will look for the comforting solidity of well-crafted prose for the essence of your message. The essence of all good design - and particularly Web design - is the creative, well-judged marriage of word and image. And this was something George Lois appreciated nonpareil.

Of course, we can't all exhibit the creative genius of George Lois. But to aspire to less is to undervalue our constituency.

--John Blower

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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:


April 20, 1998
  • Pragmatists
  • Asps
  • Bad Job Site
  • ClickZ Plus
  • Intellisys
April 13, 1998
  • Spring Break
  • Coming Of Age
  • Weblinks Co.
April 6, 1998
  • Pragmatists
  • Asps
  • Bad Job Site
  • ClickZ Plus
  • Intellisys
March 30, 1998
  • GIF Wizard
  • Intellectual Property
  • Job Corner
  • Technorealism
  • Surf Incentives
March 23, 1998
  • A Solution?
  • Lost In Space
  • Taxes
  • Guild, Schmild
  • WinJobs
March 16, 1998
  • Local Markets
  • DevShed
  • Hold That Thought
  • Peapod
  • Web Bloat
March 09, 1998
  • Tags
  • Trademark Domain
  • Transactional Analysis
  • Smart Art
March 02, 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
  • Were They Thinking?
  • Great Recruiting Design
  • Link Info
Jan 26, 1998
  • What's In It 4 Me
  • Global Reach
  • Deadly Sites
  • Accomodating Design
Jan 19, 1998
  • It's Local
  • Dodgy Data
  • Luncheon Meat
  • 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
  • NPR
  • Whose Eyeballs
  • 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
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?
Nov 02, 1997
  • Narrowcast
  • Chatter
  • SOHO
  • Whose Domain?
  • Hungry in Hungary
October 26, 1997
  • Cheap Is Dear
  • Relationships
  • H=1 W=1
  • Relevant Measurement
  • Breach Of Security
October 19, 1997
  • Java Jangle
  • Clean Your Db
  • Caching In
  • Careful With Those Digits
  • World Wide Local
October 12, 1997
  • Buckets o' Blood
  • Index Your Site
  • Links and Traffic
  • View From Above
Complete Indexed Archives(36 months of marketing and design) Complete Indexed Archives(36 months of marketing and design)

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