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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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August 14, 1998

Common Standards? Perish the Thought!

The Web Standards Project is a well-intentioned attempt to pressure the two major browser makers to harmonize standards across the board, without either having to await W3C standards, almost invariably long, often in vain.

According to Glenn Davis, of Web-design firm Project Cool, the cost of developing a cutting-edge site which is viewable by both major browsers can add as much as a 25% premium to the cost of the site.

In addition to increasing the cost of Web sites, the lack of common standards is breeding a sense of frustration among developers who face the progressively difficult task of performing workaround upon workaround.

"Most of my design ideas are really simple, but executing them consistently across Internet Explorer 3 & 4, as well as Navigator 3 & 4 is anything but," says Jeffrey Zeldman, a New York Web publisher/designer. "I have to engage in laborious workarounds, simply to end up with a very basic design that works."

The Web Standards Project is also concerned with future browsers that will run on non-PC devices, such as palmtops and Web phones. "Lack of standards support is going to hurt that development," said Davis. Other members of the Web Standards Project include Martin Diekhoff of the Getty Information Institute, Ann Navarro of Webgeek Communications, Roger Black of Interactive Bureau and John Shiple of Squishy Designs.

The WSP site features calls-to-action, a "Mission Statement", and a somewhat sparse calendar.

We applaud the Group's efforts. Whether those efforts will be rewarded with a consitent, coherent, joint policy on standards from both Microsoft and Netscape will be viewed with interest from these quarters.

--John Blower

August 13, 1998

Web '98

Web professionals will probably want to know about Web Design and Development '98 - thankfully shortened to Web '98 - a five-day conference sponsored by Miller Freeman.

The five days are broken down across two axes:

Days 1-2 comprise full-day tutorials on web design, Java, Javascript, XML and others;
Day 3 looks at "trends in cyberspace";
Day 4 focuses on practical techniques and the indefinable "process";
Day 5 turns its attention to "Tools and Techniques".

In addition the conference clusters around six subject tracks:

Information Design
Visual Design:
Backend (servers, databases and connectivity).

There's an impressive list of workshop leaders and speakers, including the eminently sensible Jakob Nielsen (probably worth the price of admission alone).

The conference takes place in Boston September 22-26 at the Hynes Convention Center.

There's a full description of all the conference elements and a registration form at the conference's site.

Hope to see you there! --John Blower

August 12, 1998

Good Site Design Practices

In a newsgroup to which we subscribe, comp.infosystems.www.authoring.site-design, we came across these principles of good site design, thoughtfully compiled by Tobias C. Brown, with assistance from Alan J. Flavell, Sue Jordon, and Susan Lesch.

"1. Write for multiple Web browsers to provide easy access to the widest possible audience.

The World Wide Web is a multi-platform, non-browser specific medium. It should not matter whether people browse your web pages using Netscape Navigator 4.02, AOL Browser 3.0, Lynx 2.7, or NetPhonic's Web-On-Call.

Each browser ought to render your informational web pages without problems. If a Web page is designed properly, blind individuals using text-to-voice or Braille web browsers can easily access and review your work.

2. Condense textual content to fit the time and attention constraints of today's busy Web users. Take a look at Thoughts on Web Style,

3. Use small (byte-wise) graphics so graphics load more quickly in graphics-capable browsers.

It is not advisable to use GIFs for everything. It's of the first importance to make the right choice between JPEG and a palette-based format. Avoid blindly choosing GIF and then trying to rescue yourself from the resulting problems.

JPEG image compression Frequently Asked Questions

4. When using graphics, provide textual alternatives for image disabled or text-only web browsers and indexing agents.

Use of ALT texts in IMGs .

5. Run Web pages through a validator to test their compliance with HTML standards.

Modify pages until they validate, because compliant pages have a better chance of being rendered by various Web browsers, as the writer intends.

However, if you intend something that is impractical with HTML, it will be no less impractical for being syntactically valid.

Work with the strengths of HTML rather than trying to batter it into a WYSIWYG page design system.

Kinder-Gentler Validation

WebTechs Validation

What You See Is Not What Others Get on the Web

6. Run pages through Lynx View or Lynx-me or, best of all, view them using a browser like Lynx, to see how the "text-only" world sees your documents. Make documents Lynx-friendly.

7. Spell check your documents.

8. Establish a routine to help you locate and fix broken internal and external Web site links.

Doctor HTML

8. If your web site URL or eMail address will change occasionally, consider using a service that provides eMail forwarding and URL redirection.

9. Submit your Web site address to an appropriate newsgroup for a critical peer review.

10. Promote your Web site by adding your URL to search engines and directories. To ensure that people can easily find your Web site, it may be necessary to modify your pages to take best advantage of current search technologies."

Thank you Tobias et al.

August 11, 1998

What's that Tag?

HTML is in a constant state of flux, with new browser-specific tags being devised with each reiteration of the two major browsers.

In general, it's a hassle keeping up with them all.

No more. The latest version of Ron Woodall's excellent HTML Compendium has just been posted (dated February 1, 1998).

This resource lists pretty much every tag ever devised and provides indicators of which versions of which browsers support it.

The site itself is well-designed, offering the user a variety of mirrors depending on their geographical location, and, more importantly, a choice of framed or non-framed versions.

Bookmark this site and return regularly for updates!

--John Blower

August 10, 1998

Never Mind the Product - Think of the Brand

The current football fest known as "France '98 - Coupe du Monde" has succeeded in closing down most of the rest of the world for the duration. Cabs are unavailable in London when England plays, and all Tunisian bureaucrats are given the day off when the national team is on. Indeed, the productivity of our East Coast office has taken a dive, due to its being 100% European.

The game of football - or "soccer" as it is known in the US - is a fluid, graceful blend of consumate teamwork combined with flashes of individual brilliance (except for Brazil...). It's played over two halves of 45 minutes each, with no natural beaks.

Which presents problems for TV. For a sporting event to attract sponsorship in the US, there needs to be the potential to advertise.

No such luck with global football. The solution has involved far-sightedness and imagination on the part of ABC, ESPN, sponsors and ad agencies.

In the top right-hand corner of the screen during play is a box with the time, the score - and the logo of the sponsor of that segment of the match. Anyone with more than a passing interest in the Coupe will know the sponsors (British Airways, Mastercard, Nike, Budweiser, US Army (!) ) almost by heart (we may have missed one...).

Even the ads at half time are brand oriented. Products take a back seat in this situation.

What's the point? "Top of mind" is what we former ad types call it. And in this case, it works subtly and pervasively.

Strangely enough, the Web is great for branding, less so for product sales, at least at the consumer level.

Do yourself a favor and take in a few matches (if you haven't done so already). Check out the strange but effective insidiousness of the branding campaign to which you are subjected.

Now apply those lessons to your website...

BTW - we favor Brazil, Holland and Nigeria....

--John Blower

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:

Aug 09, 1998
  • NUA
  • Yell
  • POV
  • Fat 'n Sassy
  • Doctor
Aug 02, 1998
  • Browserola
  • Recommend It
  • Web Design
  • Ireland
July 27, 1998
  • Iran 2, US 1
  • What's New?
  • Clutter
  • WebPosition
  • Surveys
July 20, 1998
  • WIIFM (Wiffem)
  • Global Reach
  • New Kid
  • Utility / Futility
July 13, 1998
  • 5 Cs
  • Take No Prisoners
  • Deadly Sites
  • Link Info
  • EGR
  • Great Recruiter
July 06, 1998
  • Web Bloat
  • Utility / Futility
  • Transactional Analysis
  • Site Design Principles
June 29, 1998
  • Gone Fishin'
  • Search Tech
  • Mediocrity
  • Creating Deadly Sites
  • The Lenox
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
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