(Web Info Newsletter for The Rest of Us!)
CONZZ_ARCHIVES Volume 1, Number 2 -- Sept. 18, 2001
IN THIS ISSUE
FEATURED ARTICLE: To Dot Or Not To Dot... Part Two! Why Dot?
OUTWARD BOUND: Links of Interest
CONTACT & SUBSCRIPTION INFO
The tragedy befalling America and the global community last week has been foremost on everyone's mind. I know the pain is felt in the hearts of all our friends -- throughout the world. Our thoughts and prayers are with all, for we all are touched by these atrocities, and with the leaders who will be faced with very difficult decisions in the days ahead. We also pray for parents who now have the daunting task of helping their children through these days. And yes, we are all parents, for it takes a village to raise a child.
This is the second in a continuing series of newsletters directed toward our clients, associates and friends, written in down-to-earth, useful, digestible terminology. In this and future editions, you will find short articles covering topics related to Internet and Web site technologies, Web design and Web development.
Your feedback is always welcome and encouraged. Please, send any
questions or ideas for future articles to:
We'll do our best to address your questions and concerns in future
If you know of someone, a friend, associate, or fellow employee that you would like to add to the newsletter mailing list, or if you would prefer not to receive this newsletter, please use the contact info at the end of this text.
Thank you and we hope you find this newsletter informative, or at
Connie Seidel, Editor & Sr. Web Developer, Seidel & Associates
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FEATURED ARTICLE: To Dot Or Not To Dot... Part Two - Why Dot The Dot?
"The Old 'Why And What's In It For Me?' Question"
Last month, I discussed some of the basics of user-centric Web design and why considering the user is so important when budgeting for your new or revised Web site project.
It was brought to my attention, however, that there are those that may be concerned with yet a more primal question: "How can a Web site possibly do anything for me or my organization?"
As it is my intention to bring worthwhile information to you with these newsletters, and to avoid the dot com chauvinism so prevalent on the Web, I'm clearly amongst the quilty with my very first publication! So, let's step back a little further and take a look at the "why" before getting carried away with the "how."
"Why Should I Wanna Have A Dot?"
Frankly, it's a really good question that gets overlooked all too often by the Web elite. Many in my industry would just say "Well, 'cause ya gotta," but you and I know, there are some sites out there that really don't seem to be worth the dust their pixels are painted on. The current garage sale of e-commerce companies seems evidence enough. We_deliver_toothpaste_in_an_hour.com indeed!
I do think that the question goes deeper though and deserves a little broader perspective. In the spirit of keeping this newsletter short and sweet, let me just throw out some kernels of thought (or reasons TO have a Web site) for you to nibble on.
Not every argument for or against a Web site can be generic enough to apply to all organizations or situations. Pick from these whatever fits and try expanding on the notion yourself to see if you find a business model for a Web site that makes sense (If you would like to discuss any of this in person, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org - I'd be happy to run through the pros and cons
"Top Ten Reasons To Consider The Web"
Analysis of Internet use in the U.S. says that currently 50% of all American households have a computer connected to the Internet. That's not the whole story -- Cody, Wyoming, for example, may really only be about 10% connected, while the San Francisco Bay Area is likely well above 85%. So consider your own local demographics as well as your organization's possible Internet demographics. If you're a heating and air conditioning installer in Wichita Falls, Texas, what's the likelihood that your next customer is searching Yahoo! for you and your services? But if you're a nonprofit with a national mission focused on missing and exploited children, your best bet for visibility may be on the Web.
Not everybody is buying pet food on line (indeed!). But if you're a home builder, and you want people to see a gallery of photos of custom homes you've built, you won't get that into your Yellow Pages ad. You will, however, have ample space to put "www.we_build_homes.com" in any of your print advertisements, on your business cards, in your brochures, your van... you get the picture. Studies show that people with Internet connections do have a tendency to look up those URLs they see on business cards, local tv programs or ads, billboards, license plate covers... Of course, not ALL URLs, just the ones that pique their interest. So, if someone's spouse is insistent on moving up into a custom built home, you've got interest, you've got pique, and with that chance sighting of your URL, you've got game... and possibly a new custom home buyer!
Let's take another look at that Yellow Pages ad. Even with a full-page ad, can you possibly communicate all you would like about your professionalism, capability, experience, and service? If you're a local pet clinic, can you show that new pet owner your clean, state-of-the-art facility in a 1/8th page newspaper ad? Can you present not only the services you render, but recommend some of the basic and standard pet health notes, like common poisonous house plants, that could leave the reader thinking, "Now, these people really know their animals!" Can you imagine what you might be able to communicate in just 2 to 5 web pages?
Let's say your organization operates a shelter, or a soup kitchen, or a community health services referral program. A great Web presentation can make a substantial impact on your future donors. Or how about just making sure your crisis lines, events calendar, or programs are published, up to date, and available to your community 24/7?
Brochures are nice. But they're expensive to design and print, and the information in them can change -- fast. When something changes, all that cost is lost. Changing your days and hours of operation,
contact information, address, phone numbers, etc., is a snap on a Web site and very cost effective. A Web site won't completely replace printed materials, but it can make a big difference on your budget.
Maybe you produce an educational program or provide counseling services. Being able to make curricula available online could save possible printing, mailing, or other publishing-related costs. What
about notification of course prerequisites and outlines, intake forms or personalized testing, reading lists, schedules, locations, fee structures, instructor bios? The list goes on. You could enhance the credibility and professionalism of your programs or services with a well-designed Web site.
You're a consultant, a counselor, a writer, or an educator. With only a few pages on a Web site, your bio, your background, your expertise, and/or your list of clients can be available to anybody, anywhere, anytime. Keeping this information current and informative is much easier and far better on the Web than depending on that 2 year old resume some possible client has in their file drawer. More than likely, any clients you may want to be addressing will find accessing your information via your Web site preferable.
Are you or your company a member of a guild, a professional organization or association, or a network? At this point, most professional associations and guilds are already on the Internet and being able to link to and from these organizations with your own Web site can be a valuable source of referral.
Information publishing -- you can't do it more effectively than on line. If you're currently publishing something like grant guidelines or applications via written materials mailed to your clients, grantees, or stakeholders, a Web site is the perfect vehicle to post this information for less cost and with less effort. Updating, correcting or improving the content of these pages is by far easier on a Web site than with written and printed materials.
What if you're gathering client/prospect contact information? This is cumbersome, expensive and error-prone through mail, fax or phone information-gathering techniques. Forms and other interactive methods of information gathering online can streamline this process and pay for a Web site quite quickly.
"To The Web And Beyond... The Yellow Pages"
There are many ways a Web site can make good business sense, and none of them include operating an e-commerce site with hopes of beating Amazon.com to the punch. Just look at what you are currently expending in effort and dollars for marketing, advertising, and delivering goods, services and information. If you make the assumption that a growing and substantial client base is capable of accessing you on the Internet, maybe converting some portion of that strategy to a web-based deployment makes sense.
Of course, not all Web sites are equal. You would not expect shoddy, low-quality ad work or brochures to attract much attention or convert prospects to clients. Don't assume that poor quality on the Web can do any better. Unfortunately, people do judge books by their covers and organizations by their Web sites. The good news, though, is that not only is the Web a great equalizer, the field for compelling, high-quality Web design is wide open.
But that's fodder for another newsletter...
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OUTWARD BOUND: Links of Interest
- The Hunger site (that's right - it's back!)
Yes, the news of its demise was somewhat premature. Actually, the co-owners of EcologyFund.com (Tim Kunin and Greg Hesterberg) purchased GreaterGood.com (previous owner of The Hunger Site) in a foreclosure sale in mid-August. So you can continue to point and click and feed the hungry.
- The Breast Cancer Site
If you're a regular to The Hunger Site, you already know about The Breast Cancer Site. It has also been revived along with The Hunger Site. Just click the pink "Fund Free Mammograms" button. Works the same way as The Hunger Site. The Rainforest Site is due to be revived soon as well.
- Powerful new Meta Search Engine
Worth a bookmark. This search engine compiles search results from the
top search engines and indexes (except Google) and presents a list of
up to 40 unique top-ten pages. Works with English language searches
quite well - like "are there recipes for rubber duck?" Try it.
New S&A sites
- CommunityCare Foundation, Inc.
A redevelopment and completely revised design laying this community foundation's public information out in a much friendlier environment. A good example of what we call "a clean, well lighted place."
- YWCA in Santa Clara Valley's new site by S&A
The YWCA in Santa Clara VAlley (San Jose and South Bay area of San Francisco Bay Area) has a newly architected and designed web site. As of August 2001, the "Y" can now take credit card donations online, post class schedules and present their programs, events and message to their community and supporters in a clean, well-lighted place.
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