RMIUG Meeting Minutes - The Good, the Bad
and the Leading Edge in Web Sites
The August 13th meeting of the Rocky Mountain
Internet Group started at 7:00 with Dan
Murray as the emcee. He announced that the
September meeting, on the 10th, would be
all about ISDN, with speakers from US West,
an ISP and a user. Dan mentioned the RMIUG
mailing lists and Carroll Blend mentioned
the RMIUG libraries presence.
Dan surveyed the audience to find that,
in rough numbers:
50% were attending an RMIUG for
the first time.
50% were from around Boulder
30% were from around Denver
20% were from elsewhere
99% were "on the internet"
50% had personal home pages
70% of the companies had web sites
......and there was a smattering of diversity
in using web data bases data formats, VRLM,
When Dan opened the floor for announcements
there were two:
Bill Moninger, firstname.lastname@example.org,
announced a CU Continuing Education class
to be held on Tuesday Evenings this fall
called "Computer Technology and Human Values".
Bill later provided that "This course is
for people interested in humanities, social
science, engineering, and computer science.
Students will be encouraged to draw on their
unique backgrounds to develop a new appreciation
of how social and ethical values are shaping,
and being shaped by advanced technology."
More information can be found on the web
Terry Freeman, email@example.com,
announced the Internet Chamber August Meeting
would be "RETAILING ON THE INTERNET" on
Wednesday, the 28th. It will be a panel
discussion on Retailing on the Internet
by representatives from 3 businesses that
are conducting sales on the Internet. They
will share their insight into what is working
and what is not. This should offer excellent
insight into creating a successful Internet
presence. The meeting is preceded at 6:00
p.m. with a Food Buffet and begins at 7:00.
It will be held at the Colorado State University
- Denver Center in Downtown Denver at 110
16th Street, Suite 605, the corner of Broadway
& 16th St. Mall. It is $15 for non-members
and free for members. You can register by
phone (303) 691-0404, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
or check the web-site at http://www.icc.org.
Dan Murray next introduced the evenings
speakers, William Horton, email@example.com,
to talk on "The Good, the Bad and the Leading
Edge in Web Sites". Horton, a MIT graduate
and registered engineer, is a web consultant
and author in Boulder.
Using sets of examples, William went through
some key points about web design, layout
and content. He started out by pointing
out that "the parents are coming home" --
the companies are beginning to ask what
are they getting out of their investments
in their web sites. Is it meeting goals
of either making money, saving money, or
being viewed as "way cool" by 16 year olds?
To address this, Horton listed the following
- "avoid siteosis vacuosis" by putting
in content, make the information up-to-date
and have lots of detail.
- "Paper is not dead, but publishing
is..." where as a client reader you choose
what you want to know, rather than be
given what the information provider wants
to tell you. Some illustrations here were
Bad (Netscape's home page - all ads and
FedEx - hid the important stuff) and Good
(UPS - not pretty by obvious content)
- "A web page is not a paper page" so
don't design it for paper. Horton noted
that the evolving metaphor for a "page"
is a control panel, making things horizontal
rather than vertical with a consistent
- "Suffer not from Photoshop envy" by
keeping the layout simple, using "Shaker
design". "Whisper, don't shout." Horton
showed examples of poor designs which
included lots of "web awards" and noted
that the eye is distracted by lots of
irregular shapes and colors.
- "Waste not thy Bandwidth" and avoid
excessive graphics and large multimedia
objects. William showed an example of
a "large talking head" QuickTime video
which wasted bandwidth and contributed
little. He also cautioned about the use
of 256 colors when smaller palettes will
- "Build a two way street" and solicit
something back from the users. "Send us,
contact us, subscribe now" is a way to
get the people involved. He noted that
if you set up a web discussion group,
it is best to have it moderated.
- "Use HTML only as a last resort" by
providing, where appropriate, the source
documents. He explained that for some
technical documents within an intranet,
providing the source documents in their
"native" format is often easier and more
cost effective than converting them to
HTML. He also advocated using plug-ins
for delivering CAD graphic objects.
- "Predictability is next to godliness."
Things that look like a button should
be a button. Things that look like an
image map should be an image map. He also
suggested repeating the navigational buttons
on the content pages.
- "Minimize clicks between questions
and answers" by limiting it to no more
the 3 or 4. He noted that people stop
after a while and give up. Again, he suggested
you use graphics to show where you are
in a information web. Horton suggested
that a site should have a table of contents,
an alphabetic index and a home pointer.
He noted that while a search engine is
valuable, you can only find "what you
know", which sometimes hinders those using
English as a second language.
Responding to questions, Horton noted
that the purpose of a home page is to get
someone off it -- and onto the appropriate
page containing the information.
On the subject of frames, he suggested
using caution now since many browsers cannot
support it, but that many are moving towards
supporting them. Similarly, with plug-ins,
will a user download and install a plug-in
to view one document? Probably not, though
as disk space is becoming cheaper than filing
space, there will probably be a movement
to using more of them.
After audience applause, Dan Murray awarded
William and his wife, Kit, an official RMIUG
tee-shirt, then closed the meeting.