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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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Week Ending June 29, 1998

Gone Fishin'

John Blower is actually quite busy watching the World Cup. After nearly a year of intense road delivery of IBN seminars amd daily reporting, he's kicking his feet up in new digs. We'll run some of his best stuff from the archives in his absence.

Or, as the sign on the physicist's door said


--John Sumser

June 26, 1998

The Lenox

The Lenox Hotel is a rather smart hotel in Boston. Their website is a model of good design and architecture.

Let's take a look at why - the principles upon which the site is built are instructive and worthy of note:


All the pages on the site feature the tastefully restrained logotype in the same position. Once the homepage has loaded the logotype, all other renditions are loaded from cache, which increases speed.

The same holds true of the sidebar and the link images.


Navigation is a snap, due to the image links at the top of the page, which are repeated at the bottom as textual links.

The labels themselves are self-explanatory and descriptive - there can be no doubt about where you are or where you are going.


Within the site there are numerous images. They have all been reduced, and with few exceptions, serve to illuminate and enhance the text.

They are placed in such a way that they load as the reader is perusing the text, thereby not detracting from the function of the site, which is, primarily, to inform.


The copy itself is lean whilst being informative. Paragraphs are, on the whole, short and to the point. The language is easily comprehensible and compelling.

All in all, a site which does precisely what it intends to do - which is to ring that 800 number.

--John Blower

June 25, 1998

How to Create a Deadly Website

Creating a super site is simple. All you have to do is go to a decent book shop and pick up any of numerous titles which will give you step-by-step instruction on how to do it.

(You don't even need to fire up the car - just point your browser to Amazon, and an even greater choice awaits you.)

What's really difficult, however (and something no book will instruct you in), is how to put together a site which is guaranteed to send visitors to their bookmark file within seconds of hitting your site.

So, as we start a new year, dear readers, here, for easy reference, are a few pointers on how to deter visitors from ever penetrating the really interesting stuff at your site.

Remember, your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to:

  • Drive away users;
  • Obfuscate what your company does;
  • Look like a rank amateur.

Drive Away Users

A good start is to present users with a long registration form before allowing them entry to the site. The form should ask questions like income, number of siblings, pre-existing medical conditions etc. Ideally, users should require a password which will be eMailed to them.

Include some background music in an obscure audio format which requires users to download a plug-in, quit, install, re-boot etc.

Use plenty of proprietary tags, and include lots of "Best Viewed with....." graphics;

The "homepage", when finally reached, should feature a huge graphic in millions of colors. Anything under 100k is inadequate. ALT tags should be omitted, as should "H=" and "W=" tags.


This is more difficult than it sounds, requiring as it does the use of complex, industry-specific jargon (liberally spiced with words like "awesome" and the prefix "cyber-"), the grammar of which should include an unnecessarily large number of dependent clauses, which are preferably provided by the Research & Development Department in conjunction with the Director of Marketing, all of which tend to upend the existing paradigm , but only within the context of an aggressively post-modernist organization, despite the need to explore and develop an evolutionary (as opposed to revolutionary) business model which takes into account the restrictions of the New Medium.

Don't forget a "Mission Statement", "Our Goals", and "Our Vision". And the obligatory statement from the Chief Executive along with an unflattering image (see above).

Never include any contact information. Unless it's on level 8 of your site.

Look Like an Amateur

Needless Capitalization Is a Good Start, But Don't Forget; the Unnecessary punctuation And. Particularly Not The exclamation Points!!!!!!!!!

Bad spelling is more difficult than it appears, but homonyms usually escape spell-checking. "Its" and "it's" are good ones as are "they're" and "their".

Be reckless! With the degradation of written American, it can actually be quite difficult to come up with prose which is riddled with spelling errors which doesn't look OK to the average user.

Adverbs are fertile ground. "We do it good and quick" is the kind of thing we have in mind. But don't, under any circumstances, use the word "hopefully". Chances are, in attempting improper usage, you will stumble upon the correct usage.

Use frames in profusion, no less than five per page. If frames are beyond you, use tables - the bigger the better!

And remember - never, ever integrate your web efforts with any of your other publicity of promotional material....

--John Blower

June 24, 1998


Every week, we get several hundred notifications of new sites on the Web from a variety of sources.

The number we take the time out to visit? Half-a-dozen at most.

What's up with us? Jaded? Maybe.

Perhaps we need a new pair of eyes to re-open our half-lidded pupils.

We equipped our intern - a charming 21 year-old, just out of a relatively obscure college in the North-West, who we had employed as a favor to her wealthy mother - with a laptop and an account and said to her "Tell us what's new and exciting out there."

Back came the answer: "Not a lot".

Admittedly, the typical "come-on" is hardly exciting. Take a look at this one for example:

4. NEW YORK, NY-Blue Dingo Digital announced the assignment of the Outback Steakhouse Restaurants Web Site.

What's wrong with this? And why did Monika (our intern) find it as unappetizing as we did?

Easy. It's poorly written. Unless you're a serious Australian carnivore, what possible interest could this release have for you?

However, had the copy read:

"A herd of herbivores hang out just outside Sydney, Australia. Why? Click here to find out..."

we might all have been at least tempted...

The good people at were doing their client no favors whatsoever by releasing such a poorly-written release. And, of course, we assume that it was a mere oversight which omitted the apostrophe from "Restaurants"...

Get real. If you're crafting a press release, "craft" it! It's your first chance to get the great public interested in your site. Copy needs to be compelling and intriguing.

Let's face it, we're not all budding Shakespeares. If you know your imitations, hire a pro.

You know it makes sense...

--John Blower

June 23, 1998

It's a Canary -- isn't it?

I felt for a long time that the fuss over credit card transactions on the 'Net was a canard.

After all, we regularly entrust our cards to, for example, waiters in restaurants for extended periods without a qualm. And using an ATM card in a supermarket uses pretty much the same technology as sending a CC number in eMail.

In any event, if you do get ripped off, Visa (or whoever) is liable, not you.

There are, however, classes of documents which demand total security and verification. Granted, at the moment, these types of docs are probably largely confined to Intranets. But as Intranets grow and interact with each other (Extranets?), the need for secure encryption will force its way on to the 'Net.

Which is what Terisa is addressing.

My spies tell me that:

"With SecureWeb Documents (TM) we give webmasters the ability to require digital signatures (PKCS.7) on HTTP documents, both dynamic and static. This occurs through a plug-in to the browser and an add-on to the server.

We have a downloadable plug-in on our web site and a demo running there as well:

With SecureWeb Documents (TM) when a customer fills out a form, the form will require their digital ID; it may also be encrypted. By enabling the storage of tamperproof digitally signed documents and tamperproof digitally signed receipts on your hard disk, our product provides the audit trail so important for legally binding documents.

SecureWeb Documents (TM) provide authentication, validation, and (until now a missing piece) nonrepudiation."

The license isn't cheap.

But what price security? --John Blower

June 22, 1998

Search Tech: The Next Generation

The amount of data available on the Web continues to grow exponentially.

As more and more data is accumulated, how to retrieve the information you want readily, efficiently and economically is a hot topic.

In the "old days", extracting information from internal databases required a fairly comprehensive knowledge of the technical structure of the database and at least some professional programming expertise.

Searching the Web, on the other hand, was easy, particularly after the advent of Alta Vista. There simply weren't that many documents to search.

Now, however, using Alta Vista to search for documents related to a particular topic yields an unusable number of references.

This relatively unsophisticated search mechanism is about to be surpassed by the integration of Natural Language Processing into search engine post- and pre- processors.

Two of the main elements of Natural Language Processing (NLP) are morphology (the study of word forms and their relationships to parts of speech), and syntax (the study of the ways in which words are combined to develop phrasal structures).

When a search engine has been augmented with NLP capability, users no longer need to master the complexities of query syntax - like Boolean operators. Data sources can be queried using everyday language.

A major player in this area is Inso, who have developed a new natural language tool, Intelliscope. Intelliscope, in turn, has been integrated into Verity's Natural Language Tool.

As this sophisticated search software takes root in both the Internet and Intranets, users will be able to conduct far more targeted searches for precise topics or nuggets of information.

For site designers and marketers, the effect will be to level the playing field. Meta tags will need to become more precise and descriptive, which, in turn, will force site owners to more precisely define their USP within the universe of available concepts.

Up next: penetration... --John Blower LinkExchange
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 22, 1998
  • Want An Award?
  • Offline Promotion
  • It's Local
  • SOHO
  • Deep Throat
June 15, 1998
  • WebTV Design
  • Communities
  • Lifetime Value
  • Too Good To Be True
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
Complete Indexed Archives(49 months of marketing and design) Complete Indexed Archives(49 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