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((((((((((((((((( WEBREFERENCE UPDATE NEWSLETTER ))))))))))))))))) August 17, 2000


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http://www.webreference.com http://www.webreference.com/new/ http://www.webreference.com/new/submit.html New this week on WebReference.com and the Web:

1. OPEN PUBLISHING: Submit Your Article Today! 2. SITE NEWS: Mother of Perl Back in Action! 3. FEATURED ARTICLE: Eat a Web Site for Breakfast 4. NET NEWS: * Network Solutions Accused of Favoritism * FBI Prepares to Disclose Material on Wiretapping * Report: 61% of Larger Sites Offer Multimedia Content * New Strain of "Love" Virus Steals Passwords * Couple Names Baby After Web site For $5,000

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1. OPEN PUBLISHING: Submit Your Article Today!

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. Your words could be here!


This week, writer Linda Goin serves up design help with a full plate of Web sites for breakfast. Your design tells visitors and clients more than you think about your company. Read on and find out what your site's image is!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2. SITE NEWS: Mother of Perl Back in Action!

Jonathan Eisenzopf has returned to WebReference with an inside look at the new RSS 1.0 proposed spec, an extensible XML format designed for content syndication. Now you can easily share your extended RSS files by using XML namespace modules via RDF. Jonathan is an active member of the RSS interest group, and a coauthor of the new proposed spec. Look for more RSS 1.0 info soon. Welcome back, Jonathan!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3. FEATURED ARTICLE: Eat a Web Site for Breakfast

A Web site for breakfast is a good thing. Although not very nutritious on a physical level, on a mental and emotional level it might help start your day off with a bang.

When you get up tomorrow morning, grab your cuppa coffee and hit the computer's "on" switch. Wire yourself up, sit comfortably and go to a Web site. Any site. Munch on one that's familiar or branch out and try something new.

Don't go beyond the first course. Now...take a close look at what you're about to eat. How is it presented on the plate? Is this a main dish or is it a fine mix of gruel? Are you riveted by the chef's ingenuity or are you cringing at having performed this experiment so early in your day?

This morning you will discover that you prefer certain types of breakfasts. You will also begin to explore how hungry you might have to be in order to cook for certain people.

>Where are you going to stab that fork first?

Presenting an entry page on a Web site is a bit like being a chef. You might be the best chef in the world, but you need to know where you're working. If you're building a site for a clientele who wants a quick slap and a side of pig to start their day, then you want to wake 'em up with a bit of bright and a lot of shock to jolt their senses. If your customer is seeking a champagne brunch, you'll tone it down a bit. Give them little munchies to soothe their souls and lull them into pulling out that credit card.

Knowing the elements of design is very important... if you take pride in your skills as a chef, you will know the basics and the spices that will make your meal a masterpiece. But even knowing this will not help you if you don't know your customer.

Say one of your clients wants a quick-slap wake 'em up site. If your specialty is in designing this type of site, you're in like Flynn. If you have a penchant for the brunch or you're a granola kinda guy or gal, you have one of two choices: If you're not starving, turn the client down or take what you know and branch out a bit. The point is this - it doesn't matter what you cook as long as you cook it up with style.

>Let's eat!

Take a quick tour to http://www.kidswb.com and wait for the graphics to download. You might need two cups of coffee if you have a 28K modem. Be patient - what you're about to see is one of those marvels in marketing that overrides any bandwidth issues. This is a big-brand Saturday Morning Cartoon punch that hits the Under-13-Years-Of-Age Bunch. And this group of customers would willingly wait for a chocolate chip pancake with 1/2 gallon of syrup as long as they get what they've been promised.

And they get it - slowly. This is a lesson in developing a site that teases with top billing in the right hand corner. One of the many basics of designing for English-speaking audiences is to take the eye of the viewer from left to right at the top and then lead the eye down to the lower left. From that point you take them to the lower right and - hopefully - back up to the upper right again. This will form an invisible "Z" on the page.

This page will take your eye immediately to "contests" in the top right. As the page downloads, vivid colors that are a treat to a brain loaded with Saturday morning sugar will emerge. By the time the entire page downloads, the wonderful focus of the design unfolds. The WB logo in the right corner is angled to take your eye right back to the top right again. In between, the eye is all over the place - but in a focused circle. This might be murder on cataracts, but perfect for the tensed-up pre-teen with a trigger- mouse finger.

>From my own experience with a ten-year-old daughter, I'll guess that the child who has been to this site just once knows instinctively where their favorite link is located - even with a blindfold. This eliminates the download issue for the repeat viewer (I had to ask my daughter to WAIT PLEASE so I could view the entire page). As an adult the site might be a mind-boggling mystical mire of eye-candy, but every kid in your household will know exactly what to order. They will savor the bright colors and eat up the possibilities. They know the instructions, colors and busyness of the site will befuddle and frustrate their parents... and this is exactly what the chef intended. Adults are dumb! Breakfast is great!


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>Moving on the down the road...

Want to spend every cent you made on tech stocks over the winter? Want one-of-a-kind antiques? Rubbing our hands together, we anxiously search for the best place to eat. Search engines give us something we note: http://www.oneofakindantiques.com/. Oh Joy! We click and go to a diner on the expressway. This site might work for the company's previous clients - those who already know the proprietors and who trust their products and services. But we're going to take a look at why our first instinct might be to turn the car around and find another "unique" eatery.

Hitting one in the face with giant Comic Sans typeface is not a strategy I would recommend to a client who is selling "one of a kind" anything. Some quick fixes: Take the photo and blur the edges to add focus to the charming storefront. Add an elegant script for the branding. Make sure the branding has the capability to be reduced and used repeatedly throughout the site, along with the photo. Another point I would make to my client is the simple dichotomy of implying that they have one-of-a-kind antiques, yet they list everything one might find in an estate sale on the home page. Focus on one item or one genre of antique and make that a monthly feature for the site.

Colors that denote a sense of elegance would perhaps be more appetizing. I've lived in CT. I understand the history and patriotism buried deep in the hearts of New England residents. But red, white and blue might remind me that I need to pay my taxes or donate to a worthy cause rather than drop my money on a Queen Anne needlepoint bench. Taking a clue from the photo and the massive inventory, we might stay with the white background for viewing simplicity. The color of that great door in the window of the shop could be used as an accent point on the branding and for links. Since the body and the catalog are mostly listings, stick with a simple Arial typeface and keep it black. Visited link colors could be a deep green that would bounce from the green tree in the photo.

Surprisingly, the photos in the pop-up catalog window download quickly and the clues for where to go for more antiques are appropriate. What we may have, overall, is a simple misunderstanding of the proprietor's image of their business. Until the chefs know where they're cooking, they may lose some great clientele.

>Spread your style like caviar on toast...

...and take it all the way to the edges. Let's take one more foray and dine on the new image of online movie promotions. Blair Witch broke the mold of movie billboards on the Web. This was a tantalizing treat in design, and another one of those marketing marvels. But did the chefs do all they could? I think not.

The chefs might have added a free UBB to get customer participation on site instead of having the buzz off site. Add some interactive twitches (or witches) that wouldn't have broken their small budget. Get the stars to come on board to do a scheduled chat. Schedule a contest. Conduct a poll. Go to the table and see if your viewers want more or if they're thrilled with their meal.