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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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May 21, 1998


Discussions about the Internet often revolve around bandwidth, faster modem speeds, the latest "killer app" and other, largely peripheral technologies.

Forget about 'em. The Internet is about relationships: individual to individual, individual to organization, organization to organization.

Ask yourself why someone would visit your site. They probably want information of one sort or another. And if they can't find it at your site, they may mail you.

Your visitor will expect a prompt response, rendered in a friendly, knowledgeable and welcoming manner. They will expect accurate information - not a hard sell.

If the information your visitor requests is not immediately available, they will expect an immediate response telling them that and a follow-up with the requested information within twenty-four hours.

If this doesn't happen, your organization will be perceived as slow and unresponsive. And it will doubtless be perceived the same in terms of the delivery of your product or service.

This is the essence of doing business on the Internet.

It seems to us that far too many organizations do not, as yet, understand this basic principle. It often appears that they have a site "because they should" - they don't actually believe in the medium. The Internet component of their sales and marketing effort is seen as peripheral.

Too many sites are static, rarely updated, full of excessive graphics, and make no attempt to interact with their visitors.

The Internet is about building and consolidating relationships. In the Digital Age, we need to remind ourselves from time to time that it is this base which underlies the whole superstructure. --John Blower

May 20, 1998

Cheap is Dear

In a recent issue of ClickZ newsletter Rob Frankel, Principal of ad agency Frankel-Anderson propounded the decidedly retro notion of the Web as the Great Level Playing Field.

It sounds like Rob has been smoking the same stuff as the usually intelligently readable Gerry McGovern of Nua Limited, whose recent piece is a hymn to the notion that all information on the Web is - or should be - free.

Frankel propounds the absurd notions that "for next to nothing, our websites can look as big and as powerful as Coca-Cola's…" , and that "nobody charges you for access".

Last time we looked at our bank statements, we noticed a few items called "computer equipment leasing" and "charges to ISPs". And those items are just the tip of the iceberg, and take no account of site architecture, design and maintenance, not to mention the amount of time we spend using and contributing to the Web as a whole.

"Time is money"…or has that notion taken the same hike as Frankel's and McGovern's sensibilities?

Anyone who has been involved in the New Medium for any length of time will have realized that the Web consumes time, money and content voraciously. Our columnists, for example, do actually have to buy groceries and pay rent. And we're happy to pay them for their words of wisdom.

And someone has to pay us. And that's you, gentle reader.

There is a sense in which each and every one of us pays for the "free" information available on the Web, be it through an extra penny on a box of detergent or through access to Northern Light's "Special Collection" documents.

In fact, the Web is like any other business medium. It's dominated by a few big players (ever heard of Microsoft, Rob?). Which is not to say that, through astute marketing, a small organization can't carve out a small but profitable niche for themselves.

"Information wants to be free", whines McGovern.

Yeah, sure. So do Mercedes Benzes. But the people who produce both information and Mercs like to get paid… --John Blower

May 19, 1998

The Boys of Summer

Home Run Advertising is an online ad agency with a difference - they don't look or act like an ad agency.

The site itself has a running "baseball" theme, and the overall design and architecture is clean and easy-to-use.

In keeping with the philosophy of giving information away, the Boys' site features a page entitled "10 Common Web Design Company Mistakes", which is a series of checkboxes covering:

1. The homepage and lower-level page designs do not match graphically.
2. The design of the web site does not convey our corporate image.
3. The design of the web site does not clearly communicate our industry.
4. The site uses clip art as graphic elements or plain buttons as navigation.
5. The site does not have a clear and easy method for providing feedback.
6. The site does not a have a table of contents page.
7. No method to search the contents of our web site. (Search Engine)
8. The site uses frames without a compelling purpose.
9. The site uses Java/JavaScript in an ineffective manner.
10. Java/JavaScript applets do not match my web site's design elements.

Check the appropriate box(es) as they pertain to your site, fill out a form, and the Boys will eMail you a printable report with their comments.

Now, this is a pretty blatant way of capturing your eMail address, which probably means that you'll be "pitched" (geddit??) in due course.

However, it's a means of getting that "extra set of eyes" focused on your Web efforts, and is probably worth the risk.

Minor quibble: we'd feel more comfortable if the site included names, addresses, phone and fax numbers, instead of vaguely alluded-to "development team sculpted from a melting pot of Silicon Valley professionals...". Quite apart from the mixed metaphor (how do you "sculpt" from a "melting pot", exactly?), confidence is inspired by an address which is more than a PO Box.

On the whole, however, this is an interesting site with some useful content.

--John Blower

May 18, 1998

European Design Criteria

Nicholas Negroponte, founder and head of MIT's New Media Lab, addressing the European IT Conference '97, recently castigated France and Germany(and, to a lesser extent, the UK) for lagging behind in providing Internet access to their populations, and in particular, their children.

Part of the reason for this is that, in most European countries, local calls are metered on a "pay-for-use" basis. And, at least in the UK and Germany, the cost of a simple local call can be relatively high.

It's reasonable to assume that, as European telecoms become more open to national and international competition, this situation will change, and that the price of Internet access will fall.

In the meantime, however, most Europeans are simply unable to afford the luxury of almost limitless surfing such as we enjoy here in the USA.

If you are attempting to reach a European audience, then this will impose significant constraints on your site design.

Given that - in the UK at least - the cost of hardware is relatively high, most Europeans are still using a 14.4kpbs modem as a standard.

This, allied with high access costs, argues for slimmed down, graphically-sparse sites which are fast to load. We would further suggest minimizing the use of frames, and, unless absolutely necessary, forgoing the use of animation and sound files.

Which are, we believe, good general guidelines for site design and architecture, but which assume much greater significance in a European context.

Indeed, anecdotal evidence from an associate based in London suggests that a common pattern of Web use is to log on, retrieve eMail, compose responses off-line and then log on again to send them. It appears that Web usage is driven by going to specified destinations.

Which seems to argue that, in order to reach a European audience, a highly-targeted eMail campaign driving your audience to a slim, fast-loading site is the strategy to adopt when selling into this market. --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:

May 18, 1998
  • WinJobs
  • GifWizard
  • Tao of Design
  • Parry
May 11, 1998
  • Nice Niche
  • Scribes
  • Simple
  • Reveries
May 04, 1998
  • Tags
  • Trademarks
  • No War
  • Contentious
  • Sales Ambassador
April 27, 1998
  • George Lois
  • Dallas
  • Newsgroup Marketing
  • Pay 4 What You Get
  • Taking AIIM
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
Complete Indexed Archives(42 months of marketing and design) Complete Indexed Archives(42 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