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((((((((((((((((( WEBREFERENCE UPDATE NEWSLETTER ))))))))))))))))) January 06, 2000


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New this week on WebReference.com and the Web:

1. HELP WANTED: Design Columnist 2. FEATURED ARTICLE: Web Site Personality Check 3. CONTESTS: Submit & Win!, Subscribe & Win! 4. NET NEWS: * Network Solutions Takes Domain Disputes Online * Longer Domain Names Arrive * Macromedia Releases Web-Based Printing Kit * Grey Hats Traded for Black Suits and Green Helmets * Wired 1999 Vaporware "Winners" Announced

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1. HELP WANTED: Design Columnist

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen! Webreference.com is looking for a new design columnist - could you be the one to fill the voluminous shoes of our design columnist Dmitry Kirsanov? Only serious contenders need apply. You should have top-notch writing and design skills, and be dependable and timely.

For more information, check out the writer guidelines at: http://www.webreference.com/writers.html And don't forget to check out the archives of Dmitry's Design Lab: http://www.webreference.com/dlab/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2. FEATURED ARTICLE: Web Site Personality Check

You spot him or her across the room! Perfect looks, perfectly dressed, perfectly poised. Yet, you find your attention drawn away from the beauty and perfection to the laughing woman, the one with the offbeat clothes and a crowd around her. Or to the man who is far too serious - the one who makes you think in new directions.

Personality, charisma, direction... your Web site needs it to be successful. You can get by with a beautiful, technically perfect site. But unless you want to risk falling into oblivion in an overloaded bookmark file, you must put up the signs so your perfect customers will recognize you when they arrive.

I have taught marketing to hundreds of people who are preparing to start their first business. Without fail, when asked to define their customer, their response is - everyone, or everyone with a dog, or everyone who cooks. Dangerous words if you would like your business to succeed. The more people you can eliminate as potential customers, the more successful you will be.

Wait a minute! How can you succeed by getting rid of customers? That is the only way you can succeed. If you can take an honest look at your product or service, and work hard to identify who will NOT be likely to purchase your product, you will have valuable tools for creating a site to satisfy the customers who WILL build your success.

Recently, while doing a marketing research project for an art related site, I discovered three sites with very different personalities. http://www.Art.com is one of the most popular art sites on the Web. It is clear within seconds that they are serving the general population with prints, posters and framing. Framing service is fast, easy and affordable. Note the shortcuts or quick picks for everything. This site is not serving a customer base that savors the act of buying art. Instead, the vibe is: "Show me something I like (out of a wide selection) and check me out."

In total contrast is http://www.artlister.com. Visually, the two sites are similar, but you do not read very far before you realize that you are in a different world. The pricing alone will help - there is a $30,000 Robert Bateman original featured on the front page. You will also find the focus is on the artist, information, interviews, etc., and a definite tone towards art as an investment.


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For a completely different take on the art world, visit http://www.artnetweb.com/index1.html. I am very happy here, since this is a site that is clearly artsy - very much for artists, and those who appreciate art from the artist view. The look is more art, less business. The articles are a little off-beat. The art is displayed with the largest viewing size I found anywhere. Be prepared to wait for the large view, but on this site, that is OK. Click on the Projects link for pure, experimental work. The previous sites have clearer navigation, but this site's personality invites wandering rather than just "getting to the goods...."

Which of the sites above is the best for the art world? They are all great. In fact, all generate serious traffic. Each is addressing a piece of the huge art marketplace, and present a definite personality. I also found art sites that could be mistaken for a stock report, with investment as the only topic. Other sites rent or sell art to corporations. Small gallery sites often have a local focus, or feature only one medium.

What is your site's personality? Visualize the customer who will return time after time, and make a purchase, or a click through. Is your customer likely to be a man or a woman? What age? Where do they live? What do they earn? Why are they looking at your site? Do they want information? Do they want to save time? Do they want selection? Some of these qualifiers may not apply to your business, but others will. Once you have your customer's needs identified, you can start building the place where they will be at home.

As an example of just one customer trait: Is your customer base computer savvy, or have they just entered the Internet world? This is a very important distinction. If you are selling hot, cutting- edge technology, deliver that personality. If you are promising products quickly and easily to a general market, your navigation and download times must be easy and intuitive.

Art.com has a wonderful navigation system, but while I was at home at Artnetweb.com, I would not hold their cryptic menus up as an example of clear, clean, navigation. As a web artist, on this site (and only a few subjects could make me say this) that is half the fun. My Mom, who has never pretended to understand what makes artists tick, would not stay past two clicks on this site, yet would be very happy at Art.com.

Find your personality! If you are getting good traffic and low sales, look first to the image you are presenting. Can you describe the personality of your site in a few words, or does it take a long explanation? If the latter, you have some work to do. Try an exercise like the one I did with the art sites. Pick a topic and try to determine the customer base and personality for each site you visit. Warning! There are a lot of beautiful, technically great, but REALLY dull sites out there.


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****************************************************************** About the Author:

Wendy Peck has more than 25 years business experience, including over 10 years in commercial graphic design and marketing consulting. She works from her home office in Ontario, Canada, and currently offers Web design in addition to Web research, marketing and strategy services.

You can contact Wendy at: wpeck@wpeck.com, or http://www.wpeck.com ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3. CONTESTS: Submit & Win!, Subscribe & Win!

>Submit & Win!

Every Thursday the Update features a new article contributed by our readers through our Open Publishing Initiative. We encourage you to submit your own article ideas. Those that make the cut receive a free copy of Adobe GoLive 4.0!


This week, writer Wendy Peck explains why you should check the personality of your site to make sure it fits the personality of your readers.

>Subscribe & Win!

Can't write? Still want to win? Don't worry, you can! Sign up for the WebReference Update today and you could win a free copy of Dreamweaver/Fireworks Studio 3.0. Each week we'll draw new winners from our new subscribers - you could be next. Already a subscriber? Not a problem - just fill out the form, and you'll be automatically entered to win.

This week's winners include Krzysztof Klimaj of Warsaw, Poland and Ann Norris of Boise, ID. Enjoy the software, winners!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 4. NET NEWS: Network Solutions Takes Domain Disputes Online, Longer Domain Names Arrive, Macromedia Releases Web-Based Printing Kit, Grey Hats Traded for Black Suits and Green Helmets, Wired 1999 Vaporware "Winners" Announced

>Network Solutions Takes Domain Disputes Online

Domain name registrar Network Solutions Inc. launched a new site called DomainMagistrate.com, which will enable clients to resolve cybersquatting disputes online. The new site provides a roadmap to the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, which was recently mandated for all registrars dealing in the .com, .net and .org domain names. http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article/0,1087,3_272301,00.html InternetNews.com, 000103

>Longer Domain Names Arrive

Now you can register domain names up to 63 characters long, sparking a frenzy among web site owners who mistakenly believe this will shoot them to the top of search results. But there are some pluses to registering them, from a marketing point of view. http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/00/01-domains.html SearchEngineWatch.com, 000104

>Macromedia Releases Web-Based Printing Kit

Macromedia this week released the Flash 4 Print Authoring Software Development Kit, a new way for developers to use Macromedia Flash to deliver print capabilities for e-business Web applications. http://www.internetnews.com/wd-news/article/0,1087,10_275801,00.html InternetNews.com, 000106

>Grey Hats Traded for Black Suits and Green Helmets

A case of letting the fox watch the henhouse, or simply going where the skills are? In two related stories, one hacker group goes corporate, while the U.S. government considers enlisting others for the cyberware of the future.

Hacker/security group L0pht Industries announced it has been acquired by a computer security startup firm called @Stake backed by $10 million in venture capital. At the same time, in a move to enlist hackers as part of the nation's defense, the U.S. military is drafting a plan to penetrate and disrupt the computers of enemy nations, said officials from the U.S. Space Command. http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/cth071.htm http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,33443,00.html USAToday.com, Wired.com, 000105

>Wired 1999 Vaporware "Winners" Announced

Not exactly an award that you'd advertise on your home page, this year's Vaporware awards commemorate the most hyped, most expected, and most disappointing no-shows of 1999. http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,33142,00.html Wired.com, 000103

That's it for this week, see you next time.

Andrew King Managing Editor, WebReference.com update@webreference.com

Eric Cook Assistant Editor, WebReference.com ecook@internet.com

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