FROM THE TUSTIN NEWS, THURSDAY, FEB 24, 2000


THE DOC IS IN...

THERE ARE PEOPLE BEHIND WEB SITES

When you browse the World Wide Web do you ever wonder why there are certain sites you visit repeatedly?

CNNfn is my favorite World Wide Web site. It provides up to the minute financial news 24 hours per day, seven days a week. It is a perfect example of a living, breathing web site. It is relatively uncluttered and easy to move around in. The news stories are up to date. Pictures or graphics are appropriate. It shows that much thought has gone into its design and content. Every time I visit the site, it has something new. It is alive.

Edna Johnson of Turner Broadcasting emailed that CNN employs 350 staff members involved in web operations who draw their information from over 4000 news professionals worldwide. They are involved minute by minute in seeing that the latest news and information is displayed for their site visitors.

The point is that a good web site is not a static entity. Whether it belongs to Turner Broadcasting, a municipality, a business or is someone's personal site, it should live and breathe and be alive.

A recent survey indicates that there are over one billion individual web pages on the Internet. Obviously keeping these sites alive is a gargantuan undertaking. The 350 web employees of Turner Broadcasting represent only a small fraction of those involved in site maintenance. The Public Broadcasting Service indicates that over 100 people are employed in their web operations. And on it goes.

Creating a web presence calls for a major commitment. The next time you browse a web site, appreciate that there are many hours and dollars committed to bringing this site to your screen. Even a personal web site can take hours a week to maintain and keep interesting.

Why do people or organizations make this commitment? The reasons vary. In the case of personal web sites it simply can be a matter of ego. The site owner may want to say "I'm here and with it!" Internet service providers make space on their computers available free to individuals so there is little or no cost to create and maintain a personal site. It just takes love and time.

For organizations, the reasons can be more complicated. With the popularity of the Internet, most organizations know that they simply "have to be there!" With an estimated half of the U.S. population on-line, not having a web presence can be fatal.

So, organizations spend hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars to create a web presence. In some cases this presence is an extension of their corporate identity and is known as "branding." CNN after all has become the international standard for news. It would be inconceivable that they not have a significant web presence. They must extend their brand, the CNN name, to this ever more popular news medium.

Yahoo.com is another example of a major web presence. They exist solely on the web. Their business plan calls for them to offer so much information on their web site that users can plan their whole web experience around Yahoo. This capturing of "eyeballs", viewers who use their pages, allows Yahoo to charge a premium to advertisers. This advertising revenue makes Yahoo one of the few web based companies, "dot coms" that is making a profit on web operations.

Other examples of living, breathing web sites include Amazon.com, the web's major retailer. They are spending so much money on branding that they have yet to make a profit. However, their site has attracted over 12 million buyers and its' content changes daily as new features and products are added. In fact, to view the latest in web technology, one only has to visit Amazon.com.

Personal web sites also can be alive. We have an acquaintance who is traveling in Europe and is posting images and stories of his travels every week. It is exciting watching his travels and there is a feeling like being there with him.

As the web becomes more and more an everyday tool of living, it behooves web site owners to keep their sites alive and breathing. Whether we have personal or business web sites, we want to capture eyeballs. We want people to visit our sites and be able to take away something current and interesting.

So the next time you visit an interesting and timely web site, appreciate that a lot of work has gone into maintaining what you see on your screen. There are living, breathing people behind each living, breathing web site.


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