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Notes from Web INNovation '97
from TBTF for 6/30/97



Contents copyright © 1997 by Valerie Lambert <valerie at savina dot com>. Permission is granted to redistribute freely, provided that the republished document or quote is made available without charge (beyond a nominal charge for accessing e-mail, public net news, public web sites, and non-profit support groups). Hardcopy or cybernetic redistribution of any portion for profit requires negotiation.

19 June 1997

Key Messages from Vendors

Netscape: We own the intranet. Intranets-R-Us. And we know how to push channels: people are not proactive enough to actually navigate (that's why our new browser is no longer called Navigator -- get it?) The future is dynamic html. Did we mention we are 100% intranet buzzword compliant?

Sun: Java, Java, Java, heya {a little tribal dance}. Great for wristwatches and toasters as well as larger devices. And don't forget, the network is the computer.

Microsoft: Hey, we've discovered standards! Just look at the pledges posted on our site! We will code no new html feature before submitting it for review to the W3C (disclaimer: we did not say we would wait for consensus). The future is, indeed, dynamic html -- a different flavor than Netscape's, of course. Oh, and Java is a nice language and all, but, well, ...actually, it sucks: it only runs on 42% of platforms, and that number will not improve because of the combinatorial nature of new hardware configurations.

Oracle: None of that really matters, as long as you use our databases for the backend servers, and the NC for insertion into every home. The computer is the network.

Apple: Ummm, authoring tools! Rhapsody! Focussing on our strengths! Errm, servers -- yah, that's it, servers! Industry momentum! Uh, Java platforms! We know what we are doing, really!

Web authoring and site production tools vendors: {scramble, scuffle, scoot, shove} If you don't use our (No, ours! No, ours!) latest wizzy tools, your site will be terminally dull and unsexy. You won't get any dates, and neither will your company. Don't fall behind! Don't risk being uncool! Hey -- you -- don't walk away! ... {sulk}

Key Lessons from Those Who Build and Manage Serious Production Web Sites

The lack of cooperation among tool and browser vendors continues to create no end of headaches for those who actually have to do the authoring and producing. We have to continually compensate, adjust, and redesign for the incompatibilities and new bugs (and still work around all the previous bugs) so that our audience can read and enjoy our work.

Proprietary authoring and production tools are not ready for prime-time: they all produce imperfect html unsuitable for universal browser consumption. Every serious production site customizes or rolls their own tools (mostly based on public domain offerings), and writes or at least edits html by hand.

What's In, What's Out

Here is what's out and what's in this year, according to those who are building, managing, redesigning, and rebuilding serious production sites for large corporations (does not apply to artsy or concept sites):

Summary

OutIn
CoolRelevant
ComplexSimple
MoreLess

Details

OutIn
EnigmaticObvious
Fashionable and buggySlightly restrained and very dependable
Whirlygigs everywhereCarefully contained animation
Large, slow graphicsCarefully selected and optimized graphics
Excessive framesFrames only for navigation & advertizing
Plethora of pluginsHTML
Supporting tool vendorsSupporting the purpose of the site
Proprietary tools hypePublic domain and custom tools
Endless hierarchies of pagesLocal search engines
Designer fontsUser-selected browser fonts
SubscriptionsTargeted advertizing banners
Propagating new contentAggregating/repurposing content
Naked links (no description)Progressive disclosure
Content quantityContent quality (ruthlessly edited)
Multimedia hypeMultimedia disappointment (bandwidth)
Upstream partnerships to increase trafficDownstream partnership to distinguish content
Web site as wall (reduce customer service $)Web site as door (invite contact)
Corporate product propagandaLinks to independent reviews
Deciding what users wantFinding out what users want
Generic referencesBranding
Crisis managementExpectation management
Ignoring browsers that are not the "big two"Supporting all browsers, with different pages automatically served
Presentation imbedded in contentPresentation separated from content
Cascading style sheets (css1)Templates, macros, and doc object model
CookiesDatabase of registered users
WinNT hypeUnix, Win95, Mac
Writing commerce/esd appsOutsourcing to a commerce service

[ TBTF for 6/30/97 ]