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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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All material on
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© 1995. 1996. 1997 by IBN



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June 11, 1998

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

June 10, 1998

Lifetime Value

In the continuing discussion over the value of banner ads, there is a lot of buzz around concepts like CPM, click-through rates, cost-per-sale and cost per contact.

With the fast pace of Web developments, perhaps a short-term focus is inevitable. But Terry Roberts suggests that some attention to a classic tenet of marketing could have a dramatic impact on the decisions we make when it comes to Web marketing.

That tenet is the "lifetime value of a customer," or LV for short. The basic definition of LV is the total amount of sales revenue the average customer contributes to the company over the life of the relationship. Being able to determine that number is one of the many arguments for the importance of a customer database. By capturing all sales by customer in a database, the company can easily determine average lifetime value.

Once LV is known, one of the most strategic marketing questions that can be asked and answered by the company is, "How much are we willing to spend to secure a new customer if the LV of that customer is $X."

As you might imagine, the answer to that question is very different from the answer to the question, "How much are we willing to spend to secure one sale?" The difference often results in a much more thoughtful and higher-caliber marketing effort.

But there is an even greater benefit to thinking in terms of lifetime value. It helps shift the company's focus from getting a sale to creating a relationship - which is what the Web is very good at fostering.

Once the focus is on LV, a focus on how to increase LV quickly follows. That requires the company to emphasize quality of service, smart cross-selling, up-selling, and all sorts of other marketing strategies and tactics.

This is a fundamental concept, and one which deserves serious consideration by Web marketers. --John Blower

June 09, 1998


Regular readers of our columns and attendees at our seminars for recruiters will be aware that we are leery of the use of the word "community" when applied to the Web.

After all, "community" in the accepted sense of the word is a "body of people living in same locality; body of people having religion, profession etc in common" (Concise Oxford English Dictionary).

Obviously, the first part of this definition cannot apply to a virtual environment. Which is not to say that an "online community" cannot exist, simply that the term is, in our opinion, over- and often mis-used.

So how can you create the notion of a commonality of interest around your Website?

An obvious channel is the institution of a "chat area" - which has unfortunate connotations, not entirely unjustified. "Chat" takes place in real time, which makes it subject to the vagaries of time zones. It is also ephemeral, the start of any given thread being perhaps several screens away. It is also subject to the 80/20 rule: 20% of users contribute 80% of the input. And, in general, the quality of discourse is not high.

We prefer the model used by Anchor Desk. In this model, users are invited to comment on a posted article, which in turn is posted. Further participants comment on the response as well as the original article, and thus begins an ongoing "conversation".

One advantage is that site content becomes self-generating and semi-permanent. Another is that you are facilitating a genuine commonality of interest, centred upon a specific topic or series of topics.

As a recruiter, for example, you may wish to post an article about employment trends in your particular occupational area. It helps if the article is somewhat contentious.

Now distribute the article via eMail along with a link to the site and an invitation to comment (you may wish to brief a "shill" to get the ball rolling...). Of course, the 80/20 rule applies.

In this way, you will begin to build a core constituency who will return to your site in order to see what you and other respondents are up to today.

Repeat weekly or as prescribed... --John Blower

June 08, 1998

Is It Worth It?

Now that the Gorilla is behind WebTV, we suppose that we'll be seeing more of the great unwashed accessing our sites through their 36" Sonys.

Indeed, WebTV estimates that an astonishing 95 million Americans will access the Web through the boob tube in 1998.

Of course, we all know that the Web isn't "just another channel", although we suspect that URLs accompanying TV ads subconsciously convey that impression.

We suppose that, eventually, we shall have to come to terms with reality. So what are the design constraints imposed by WebTV?

Here they are:


  • Don't use full red or full white; both cause screen distortion.
  • Use client side image maps instead of server side image maps; it works better with a remote control.
  • Use the "<no Br>" and "</no Br">tags to prevent line breaks in text, a series of images, or any other horizontal flow.
  • Avoid small text sizes in HTML and graphics.
  • Avoid narrow columns; images are scaled and text will wrap frequently.
  • If you haven't yet purchased a WebTV Internet terminal, you can determine whether you have included hardcoded dependencies in your layout by increasing the default point size of the browser fonts to 18 points, narrowing the window a little, and observing your page.
  • Put the most important information on the first visible screen.
  • Try to reduce the number of items on your page because television audiences are used to looking at one focal point.
  • Pages should contain as few form elements as possible because these elements can quickly become overwhelming to non-computer users.
  • Use the additional attributes of the text input tag to change the background and text colors so that form elements are consistent with the rest of the page.
  • Use light-colored text against dark-colored backgrounds; television audiences find it easier to read.
  • When using an input image in a form to simulate a button, use the "<input nocursor>" tag to prevent having to click on the button twice to submit the form.
  • Don't use horizontal single pixel lines because they flicker on television sets.
  • Page titles are used in the Recent Panel and the Favorites bookmarks; avoid temptation- keep your titles short.
  • Use background music or theme music to provide an experience more like television.
  • Remember, the television audience differs from a PC audience.
  • Keep in mind the following points when designing your pages:
    • Keep the text clear and concise.
    • Design your pages to fit a television screen
    • Eliminate scrolling as much as possible
    • Avoid placing links that offer downloadable software on your home page.

IOHO, putting that lot together would give you nothing less than a dog's dinner of a site...

Is it worth it? Nah!

(BTW - you can find the Full Monty at --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:

June 08, 1998
  • Logos
  • SearchZ
  • Gadget Gurl
  • Good Site Design
June 01, 1998
  • The Monkey Scratches
  • The Gorilla Speaks
  • Net Medic
  • WebTV?
May 25, 1998
  • European Design
  • Boys Of Summer
  • Relationships
  • Cheap is Dear
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