a Successful Web Site"
  1. Identify your goals (why are you doing this - "fear factor")
  2. See what your competitors are doing (be a lurker for a few weeks)
  3. Understand the Internet culture (different folks and ways of doing things)
  4. See realistic expectations (no magic solution here)
  5. Research your options (lots of people who will take your money! ;-)
  6. Create visual interest (don't look cheesy!)
  7. Maintain a logical structure (help people navigate & find what they want)
  8. Provide rich content (real stuff ... not fluff)
  9. Constantly update and improve (don't let stuff get stale)
  10. Agressively market your site (put URL everywhere!)

Shelli also encouraged folks to be "smart" with appearances. Good use of fonts, background colors, and graphics can go a long ways. But be careful about being too fancy ... people want reasonable download times. And don't be afraid of putting pricing/rate information on-line.

All four panelists than came on-stage for some group Q&A.

Question: Do writers get extra pay for Web Work?
Answer: (Seth) Yes, they do get extra if their print stuff also gets put on-line. In addition, because one needs constant refresh of the on-line stuff, a number of writers get paid just for that work. As mentioned earlier, photographers are reluctant to release elctronic rights to their pictures ... and it just looks better in the magazine anyway.

Question: What backend database do you use for your web-site.
Answer: (Tim) Currently using an HP legacy mainframe ... but should have an Oracle/UNIX solution on-line withen six months. Again, CGI is a great "bridging technology" here.

Question: Who is compiling indexs/subject matter expert sites?
Answer: (Seth) SKI magazine is attempting to do just that. (Mark) This will be an area where firms compete to become the recognized expert in an area by having the "best" data available and/or through brand recognition.

Question: Do companies offer discounts for electronic orders?
Answer: (ALL) YES ... it costs less to process ... but there is also a higher no-show rate. People are still quite reluctant to give out their credit card on the Net ... although they'll give it to (basically) anybody on the phone or in person (local eatery).

Question: How do you measure the "real" effectiveness of the Web Site?
Answer: (Mark) One large client has "members" on its Web site ... so it knows when you access the site ... and can correlate that with your downloading/use of coupons and/or eventual purchases at the store. (Seth) SKI uses Web Hits/Visits as selling point to advertisers.

Question: What are some unique ways to publicize your site on the Net?
Answer: (Seth) Participate in Usenet newsgroups and include your URL in your .sig (signature) file at the bottom of your email. The person who maintains the site needs to spend one third of their time answering email, because the users expect fast response. Also, exchange free links with related sites to drive traffic.

Question: Now that a company has invested in building a site, can one person be assigned to maintain it? What is their title?
Answer: (ALL) Yes, one person should be dedicated to handling WWW site issues. Find Net-savvy college students to work on the site at a lower pay rate. Pay an outside service bureau to work on the site - farm it out. Work WWW site duties into the jobs of current employees. Person who answers email to the site must be literate - spelling, grammar is key.


RMIUG wishes to thank Internet One of Boulder for sponsoring the refreshments, NIST for the use of their meeting room, and XOR Network Engineering for maintenance of RMIUG's WWW site and email lists.

Suggestions/comments/feedback are always welcome - please email these to rmiug-comm@rmiug.org.

RMIUG has 3 email lists for its members. Send an Email to rmiug@rmiug.org for an auto-reply message with more information or check out our Web Site at http://www.rmiug.org/rmiug/

For our Tuesday, April 9th meeting, we plan to have a speaker from the CU's 48th annual Conference on World Affairs which is held that week. More details to follow as we nail this down.
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