And the survey says...
Vol. 3, No. 24,
Discover new sites and the secrets to web success
Vol. 3, No. 24 July 24, 2002
In This Issue:
1. Web content tip
2. Email tip
3. Readers Write
4. The Y Files (Q&A)
5. Surf Club - web site reviews
6. Reader's choice
7. Weekly chuckle
Web version and back issues
Web Content Workshop
Haven't had a content workshop in Brisbane since May so have set a date - Wednesday and Thursday, August 28-29.
Learn how to create a content strategy * organise your information * write for the web * encourage return visits * avoid costly pitfalls * ensure usability * maximise accessibility * work with developers * understand search engines * stand out from the crowd.
You'll discover practical tips and great resources while being entertained with real-world anecdotes and case studies. More info: http://www.brizcomm.com.au/workshops
From the editor - And the survey says...
Thanks to all of you who took the time to fill out my newsletter survey during the past week.
The response was overwhelming, although I suspect the free CD might have had some bearing (92 of 117 respondents requested a CD - an army of snails will be dispatched tomorrow).
Whatever your motivation, I appreciate it. In summary, most people -
* read most sections of the newsletter (55.7%)
* visit the brizcomm site less than monthly (33.9%)
* learnt about the newsletter through my radio spots (26.3%)
* wouldn't pay to read it (48.2%)
* are employed (58.8%)
Writing style marginally beats content and visual appeal while this intro is the best-read section (uh oh, now the pressure's on).
Overall impression of the newsletter is "excellent" (50.9%). To the one person who said "poor", I fear I'll never meet your expectations - the unsubscribe link is at the bottom.
You can see the results for yourself (I've hidden postal addresses and open-ended answers to protect respondents' privacy) -
Some of the suggestions (54) on new features and/or sections to improve the publication were fantastic.
From next week you'll see your ideas materialise when I move from ListBuilder to a new Brisbane-based e-newsletter host.
Hopefully the move will save time and money, particularly as paid newsletter subscriptions are clearly not an option right now.
I've decided to treat this newsletter as shareware - I'll keep writing it each week for free if, in return, you share it with at least one friend each week. Deal?
PS Sorry about the broken link in Surf Club last week - the Aussie recipes site was there Monday but, according to the site's host, it closed down on Wednesday. How's that for timing.
PS Have had three requests for a one-day Just Write Workshop in Brisbane. One more and it's a definite goer. Cost is $495 plus GST -
Web content tip
Usability is the buzzword of the moment but it's not new.
Good writers, editors and publishers have always known about usability, we just haven't named it. If we had, we might command the same lofty hourly rate as usability guru Jakob Nielsen ;-)
When I critique a web site, I take into account how easy the site is to use and navigate as a matter of course.
I look at the quality of the content, structure, flow, voice, tone, style, accuracy, currency, accountability, download times, interactivity, accessibility, use of graphics, animation, audio, video, links, browser compatibility and search engine friendliness, but I don't claim to be a "usability expert".
Usability experts should be able to quantify the placement or shape of buttons and menus with mathematical precision. They should know about interaction theory and user-research methodologies. They should be able to conduct focus groups and user studies to measure and back up their claims.
Content experts, on the other hand, specialise in communication and information architecture. We transmit messages through words, pictures and design.
If we want people to read what we write, the design must enhance the content. Just as in print, layout should direct the eye to the most relevant information, graphics should add value and fonts should be legible.
While desktop publishing and web-authoring programs give anyone the tools, you still need an eye for aesthetics and passion for words to create great content.
Usability is not a magic bullet. A site can be highly usable but still dull.
Just as no amount of marketing can save poor content, neither can any number of usability tests. If your content creators can't write compelling text, your site won't sizzle - simple.
"A successful usability career requires some theoretical knowledge, but mainly rests on brainpower and many years' experience testing and studying users. The only way to gain that experience is to start now."
So says Uncle Jakob in his latest column -
When you're trying to concentrate, turn down the sound on your computer's speakers.
The email notification sound is like a bell to Pavlov's dog - ring it and most of us will come a'running.
To work without distraction, you can also set up your mail program to check for new messages at longer intervals (default is every 30 minutes in Outlook Express). To change your settings, click the Tools menu, Options, General tab and Modify "Check for new messages every ..."
In Outlook, go to Tools, Options, Mail Delivery.
Ever feel as though you don't have enough hours in the day yet everywhere you look you see the time? Pollyanna explores time this week at -
* To justify the postage on "free" books, I need book reviews. If you've read the book, how about two sentences to email@example.com I'll be happy to publish it under your name or alias along with your URL.
The Y Files
Leonnie Rose sent in this question -
Q - I have been attempting to send newsletters via email which open in the content section of the email. Usually I create a html page and then "send page". In most email applications, the newsletter loads in the content section. However in Outlook, Explorer and other Microsoft email packages it appears as an attachment. How can I get around this problem? Am I sending them wrong?
A - I'm throwing this one open to you. Any ideas to help Leonnie?
Email your answer or stumper to firstname.lastname@example.org.
* previewed on ABC Radio Queensland with Andrew Lofthouse on Monday evenings
A Muse for Cooks
The ancient Greeks had muses to guide painters, musicians, poets and astronomers - why not cooks? If you prefer to cook by instinct than refer to detailed recipes, you'll find plenty of inspiration for meals, from appetisers to sushi along, with lots of bright ideas (eg dip bacon in cold water before frying, to avoid shrivelling).
In a net shell: Super simple.
Thanks to new media, making films is not just for the Hollywood heavyweights any more. Aspiring directors and writers can learn screenfuls at this portal including - the basics, tips, directories, dictionaries, dealmakers, articles, FAQs, tutorials, training, jobs, festivals, news, studios, talent, special effects and other new filmmakers. You'll also find the latest movie trailers, short films and US box office top 10.
In a net shell: Action packed.
Textbased.com - Minimalist Web Project
In an era of information overload, it's refreshing to find web designers who subscribe to the theory "less is more". Pick a site, any site, from the collection of minimalist web sites to find clean, uncluttered design (though some could make their navigation clearer).
In a net shell: Simple.
Home PC Firewall Guide
"An unprotected computer connected to the Internet via broadband (cable, DSL) is like leaving your car running with the doors unlocked and the keys in it." Anyone on a high-speed connection needs a personal firewall to deter intruders. Pick up tips and read reviews of free and fee security products (firewalls, anti-virus, anti-Trojan and privacy software, routers).
In a net shell: Keep out.
The Cool Grandma Online Community
Silver surfers have shattered old society stereotypes of how older people think and act. This easy-to-navigate community serves the modern techno-savvy senior "and those who enjoy cutting-edge graphics, content, humour and thought-provoking subjects". Enjoy the web site directory, articles, chat and tutorials (from breakdancing to writing a TV show).
In a net shell: Empowering.
Need to keep track of whose turn it is to make or buy the tea and coffee? iMadeItLast.com lets you set up an online roster to make sure everyone does his or her share. Just create a team and the appointed drink maker will be emailed (or sent an SMS, for a fee) a full list of all the drinks, sugars, milk and extras. The rest of the team is also notified and sent a score form.
In a net shell: White with none.
Sorry, I'm fresh out of web site reviews. Your turn.
Send your brief site review to email@example.com
During the war, a British General visited an Australian Army Hospital. Sensing a doom and gloom atmosphere he tried to rally the men by asking, "Now you men didn't come here to die, did you?" To which an Aussie replied, "No sir, we came here yesterdie."
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Remember, this newsletter is not free - it's shareware. Please forward this newsletter to a friend or colleague. Cheers.
Yvette Nielsen, Editor
email@example.com phone 61 (0)41 771 8683
brizcomm - online content consulting and training
PO Box 2026, Bardon, Queensland 4065, Australia
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brizcomm pty LTD accepts no responsibility and disclaims all liability for any incorrect information that may be contained in any articles or events mentioned in this newsletter.
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