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Ecommerce / Web Marketing Ezine
November 16 2001

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Taming the Beast Ezine - November 16 2001
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Contents:

A note from Michael and Kathy

1. Taming the Beast Mark II launch!
2. Article Summary - Site Upgrades - a digital enema
3. Article Summary - Free web polls for your site
4. From the Archives - Dot Bomb - Trend or lesson. 

Closing Notes and contact details

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November 16 2001

Greetings All,

4 months of part-time work in the making - Taming the Beast version 2.232534 has arrived!

We hope you enjoy the new site layout and would be appreciative of any constructive feedback you may have. Further information on the new site is contained in this issue

Included in this issue is an article from our archives that deals with the DotBomb phenomena and what we can gain from it. We'll also preview two other new articles published by Michael.

Many articles are available from our site, free for reproduction on your web site or ezine. Subjects covered include Web Design, Internet Promotion and Marketing, Security and of a general cyberspace related theme. The article index can be viewed at:

http://www.tamingthebeast.net/ articles/articlemain.htm


Don't forget to check out the other great resources on Taming the Beast.net! You can find ecommerce solutions, web development tools, hosting options and our very popular free cellular ring tones and tunes for Nokia and Ericsson mobile phones!

Please forward this newsletter on to those who you feel may be interested in the subjects discussed. If you have received this in error, we apologise, and by replying to this email with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject line, we'll remove you from our list promptly. To those of you who have subscribed, we assure you that your email address will not be distributed to any other party for any reason, in accordance with our privacy policy.

Michael and Kathy

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1. Taming the Beast Mark II

Many moons ago, a decision was made to upgrade the site. The design was old and things were getting a bit out of hand with our increased traffic flows. Finally, after a couple of hundred hours of work, the new design has been released. Some site stats

Technologies Used: cgi scripting (Perl), PHP, MySQL, HTML, SSI, FrontPage extensions, custom error pages.
Number of files in web: 300+
Number of hyperlinks: Over 10000
Average page download time: <10 seconds over a 56k connection
Amount of coffee consumed: 192 litres
Number of cigarettes: Thousands
Amount of sleep lost: Sleep?, what's that?
Number of obscenities uttered: Millions
Volume of tears shed: Enough to fill a small wading pool

And has it been worth it? Well, you be the judge. We would appreciate any constructive feedback. We have kept in mind that not all our visitors have the latest and greatest hardware. Most pages should still be viewable on low-end platforms e.g. 640x480, 256 Colors, Netscape or Internet Explorer 4. Bug reports would also be greatly appreciated.

We say farewell to Original Recipe Taming the Beast, which has been retired to a CD.

You'll notice the site rapidly expanding in the coming months as Michael is leaving his part-time IT training work to focus solely on Web Development! If you have any requests for particular sections to be added, please let him know!

And while we're on the subject, if you are contemplating a full site revamp, but just don't have the time or expertise to do it, contact us and we'll be more than happy to discuss your needs and provide you with a no-obligation quote.

Taming the Beast will be also undertaking a number of large projects next year, so if you have specialised skills, drop us a line if you haven't already done so to express your interest in undertaking contract work with us.

For more information on the various services Taming the Beast provides:

http://www.tamingthebeast.net /admin/about.htm

"we create dotcoms, not dotbombs"

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2. Article summary - Site Upgrades - a digital enema!

"It was time - the design with it's origins in 1996 was looking very jaded. Some sections of the site were like dark, forgotten alleys... infrequently visited - cold and foreboding. It was time for a full web site upgrade!"

This article contains information on some of the methods we used in our site upgrade and why...

View the full article:

http://www.tamingthebeast.net/ articles/siteupgrades.htm


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3. Article summary - Free Web Polls and Surveys

"There are many ways of eliciting feedback from visitors, from very personal strategies such as direct email communications, to the impersonal figures and bar charts of our server log reports which identify popular pages and therefore, areas of interest.

An excellent middle ground is the web poll or survey. A well thought out poll can give you a fairly accurate and dynamic snapshot of what your visitors and customers want..."

View the full article:

http://www.tamingthebeast.net/ articles/webpolls.htm

Don't forget to participate in our polls. Your feedback is greatly appreciated and assists with the future development of the site!

http://www.tamingthebeast.net/misc /pollmaster.htm

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4. From the archives - Dot Bomb - Trend or Lesson?

In these days of the "dot bombs", there are a number of us who are getting nervous about the future of the WWW as a viable means deriving a living.

We have been made very aware through different forms of media that some of the big names on the Internet have closed their doors. The sale of personal computers and IT job availability in many countries has slowed down.

After every boom; there has to be a bust... it's just the way of things.

Is what we are experiencing currently a "bust"????

Should we all start closing our websites and calling it a day? 

Definitely not.

During my training, one of my mentors drew a Chinese character on the whyteboard. It was the pictogram for the word "crisis". This pictogram has two elements; one representing "danger" and the other was OPPORTUNITY. This very much applies to the current situation of Internet eCommerce.

In this geeks humble opinion, all we are experiencing on the WWW at the moment is a bit of a cull. Consumers are becoming more net savvy and somewhat impatient with sites that are constantly ramming "buy me" messages down their throats. Investors are no longer rushing to the stock exchange to buy shares at grossly inflated prices in IT start-up companies that are purely based on promotional hype. Search engines and indexes are becoming tighter and tighter in their submission rules to combat the amount of spamming that is occurring in their databases.

The average Internet surfer has put across a message to us, loud and clear, "we're as mad as hell and we aren't going to take it any more!". People use the Internet to locate information suited to their needs. There is nothing more frustrating than to search on a particular subject or item only to find sites that are 99% hype and 1% information, or to spend half a day navigating complex menu systems, ducking misleading banners and links, in order to locate the information required.

While on the subject of web site design, a survey was recently carried by Knowledge Systems & Research Inc between March 30 and April 3, 2001, based on responses from 990 online users. These results were compiled into a report entitled "What Makes A Person Want To Come Back To Your Site?" by the highly respected Arthur Andersen company. 

The ratings were based on percentages, the higher the percentage, the more important the aspect:

Ease Of Use/Navigation: 74% 
Fast Download Time: 65%
Regularly Updated Information: 58%
Quality Of Content: 57%
Organisation Of Content: 40%
Access To Customer Service: 40%
Quantity Of Content: 30%
Search Engine At The Site: 25%
Front Page Layout: 20%
Fun: 19%
Look And Feel Of The Site: 18%
Inclusion Of Animated Graphics: 9%

source: www.arthurandersen.com

I found this survey to be particularly interesting in that there seems to be a strong message that people are growing weary and wary of our "eye candy" tactics to attract visitors and to hold them. If this survey is a true indication of the general mood of Internet users, then it is clearly showing us that people want quality information, they want it quickly and they want it easily. We need to understand that our visitors want to make informed decisions based on sound information before making purchases through our sites rather than us telling them what they need.

The recent closure of many major eCommerce based sites is not the "Grim Reaper", it is simply a lesson to us all that the consumer is king, and needs to be treated as such. We all need to focus on what I call the 4C's:

Customer Service: How long does it take you to respond to your visitors feedback or enquiries?

Content: More quality information, less hype, less bandwidth sucking eye candy.

Credibility: Would you buy something from someone in a dark alley? We need to gain the trust of our visitors before they will make the decision to purchase from us.

Coding: The quality of our coding needs to improve (yes, I'm guilty as charged ;0)..) to allow us to migrate relatively painlessly to emerging standards such as XML and XHTML. This will also ensure maximum compatibility with the myriad of browser versions and OS's now in use and to make our sites more easily integrated into other applications. Stricter coding practices will also decrease load times of our pages. WYSIWYG applications such as the one that I use for this site, while effective in rapid page development, have a tendency to include many lines of superfluous code.

With these points in mind, we will benefit from the Internet and provide benefits to others. Hopefully we will see some sort of return to the Internet "community" concept.

Greed may make you a few dollars quickly, but is not a good approach for longevity. Small web site owners now have a golden opportunity to step in, learn from the lessons of the dot bombs and become prosperous - it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good.

Michael Bloch 
michael@tamingthebeast.net
http://www.tamingthebeast.net
Tutorials, web content and tools, software and community.
Web Marketing, eCommerce & Development solutions. 
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Copyright information....If you wish to reproduce this article, please acknowledge "Taming the Beast" by including a hyperlink reference to the website (http://www.tamingthebeast.net ) & send me an email letting me know. The article must be reproduced in it's entirety & this copyright statement must be included. Thanks. Visit www.tamingthebeast.net to view other great articles FREE for reproduction!


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Well, that's all for this Taming the Beast update. We appreciate your support and the next time you visit, take the time to fully explore the site as it is expanding rapidly. We are very open to feedback, so please don't hesitate in contacting us.

We hope that life is treating you kindly. We hope for a better world.

Regards from Australia

Michael Bloch & Katherine Tyndale
Taming the Beast - Established 1995
michael@tamingthebeast.net
kathy@tamingthebeast.net
www.tamingthebeast.net
Tutorials, web content and tools, software and community
Marketing, eCommerce and Web Development Services

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