Photography

Film or digital, commercial or fine art. Making pictures is important to me and I do it well.

Web Design

See some of the sites I've designed and get some free advice about this internet stuff.

Solo Across Penobscot Bay

A kayak trip I took in 1995.

PhotoBlog

It's back! I'm going to make a point of putting photos here regularly.

Wanna web site?

Here are some things to consider before you jump on the bandwagon.

Everybody's got web sites these days. Pepsi's got a web site. Your competitor has a web site. The corner lemonade brat has a web site.

So you damn well better get one, right? Not necessarily.

Here are some guidelines for businesses or organizations considering a world wide web presence. They're strictly the opinions of this web page designer, of course, so they can and should be taken as gospel truth. And I have a bridge to sell you, too.

First of all, don't do it just because everybody else is doing it. The truth is that, although the web seems like a major wave of advertising and information, it's still reaching a small minority of the public and those it is reaching aren't necessarily consuming it in ways that could bring you profit.

And this medium is still in its infancy. Like most infants, it's cranky, hungry and growing fast. Few companies are making money from their web presences. Most have simply felt the need to jump on a bandwagon.

Like most advertising, this is best approached (for now at least) as a way to increase brand identity and make sure customers can find you at least as easily as they can find your competition. But it should also be seen as a way to give customers as much information as they could possibly want about your products or services.

Which side of this table describes your business?

Businesses that should have web sites:
  • Mail-order
  • Tourism
  • Upscale, educated consumers
  • E-Mail Friendly staff
  • You think the best customer is the most well-informed customer.

Are you doing mail order or tourism? These businesses have true potential on the web and they are already beginning to show results. Consumers can find out more information about products or services on the web than from brochures and catalogs and they can find it quickly.

Do your customers have access to computers and the internet? For now, at least, only the relatively well-off and well-educated are "wired."

Are you (or someone on your staff) prepared to spend an hour or more per day answering e-mail queries. You'll get questions like: I'm looking for such and such a widget and was wondering if you carried it. If not, where can I find it? If your response would be to answer courteously and helpfully, even though you can't make money for your trouble, the web is for you. That correspondent is likely to link to you, recommend you, maybe eventually even buy from you.

Negative Indicators
  • Local clientele
  • Downscale or less-educated clientele
  • No time to deal with e-mail
  • You just want to put your catalog/ad/brochure online.

Is your business currently local? Is it likely to continue local? If so, the web has little to offer you, because it will reach very few consumers in your locality. My usual line: Delis and doctors shouldn't have web sites.

A customer base that can't afford or doesn't know how to use computers and internet connections will never reach you through the internet.

The "wired" public expects to get customer service through e-mail. If you set up a web site and don't commit some labor to that kind of customer service, you'll lose any customer whose queries go unanswered.

This is a different medium from the world of paper advertising we're all so used to. It needs a different approach, usually more content and information-rich, but also more interactive, giving the browser more choices of direction to go. It's possible to include much more information than with print or traditional electronic media, but it must be organized well, too.



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