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What do you want?

World peace. A cookie. Immortality. Comfortable shoes. To be cool. To be hot...

The incredible thing about the web is that it can make your dreams come true. It really can. I know, I know, I'm sounding not unlike one of those bad e-mails you get telling you to send in $3 to learn the secret of wealth (which turns out to be that you need to get other people to send you $3 to learn the secret of wealth). But it's true.

Somewhere along the way a lot of us got confused. We got told and sold on what we thought we wanted, rather than what we really want and need. We were told to ask "Where do you want to go today," rather than "What are you doing for the rest of your life?"

Back to my point (and yes, I do have a point, it may be a little dull, but it's still there). We're all so busy that sometimes we don't just stop and try to figure out what we really want. Not what we want to buy or wear or even eat, but what we want out of life. I say this, not only because it's true, but because it also relates to our web sites.

So many sites are out there and we aren't really sure what we want them to do. Sell? Yeah, that'd be nice. Inform? OK, why not. Make friends with good apartments in scenic cities so we can stay with them instead of in a hotel? That sounds like a plan (hint, hint). So I ask again, what do you want? (Tell me by clicking here.

Think long and hard, because this is your future. One of my favorite quotes (which I've now seen attributed to three different people, so why not attribute it to me) is "The best way to predict the future is to create it."

None of us really know what's going to happen tomorrow, much less in five or ten years (I'll never understand those people with five year plans). But if you know what you want, you can use the web as one way to get it—to point you in the direction you want to go. With hard work and good luck, you can get it.

So take a break. Turn off the TV and radio. Shut down the computer (is it really in my best interest to say this? Who cares, it's in yours.) And take some time to think. You may not be able to answer this question today, or tomorrow, or in three weeks or months. But if you have this question in your head, you are closer to finding an answer.

Daniel Will-Harris (I want world peace, of course. And a really good salad).

 

What They Want--Looking At Logs (sounds exciting, doesn't it?)

How many of us think we know what our readers or customers want? All of us. How many of us are correct? Oh yeah, right. Come on. Admit it. Just some of us some of the time. Well, Dan Janal explains that if you really want to know what your customers are looking for, look at your Web site's log files—there's an incredible amount of market research in them.

'Its X-Lightful, Its X-Licious, Its X-Lovely (it's x-makeover)

What's red and yellow and roll all over? Oh no, this FuseLetter is starting to sound like the last one... Anyway, Gary Priester, the Makeover Maven with a heart of gold and a pony tail of silver, shows you how he added that little something X-tra to a site devoted to telling about and selling a great piece of software called CorelXara (the graphics program both Gary and I swear by, not at, it's really the best). He broke the rules (and I think a few nails) and the result is snazzy, consistent, expandable and effective. You can learn a thing or two from it.

One more reason to visit the redesigned site: Yours truly is this month's featured artist in the XaraXone Gallery. As you've probably noticed, I love Xara for creating graphics. And combine it with NetObjects Fusion and you have the fastest, easiest, smoothest, most professional (and even fun) way to build a better web site.

Faster Than A Minnesotan Mosquito (give your writing bite)

Meeks and metaphors. Need I say more? OK, I'll say more. Chris explains how to add life to your writing using something specific and moist (a friend of mine always said that babies were constantly moist), impulsive (like that last parenthetical) and active (but not so active that you have to sweat and get moist—oh why not).

The blacksmiths are coming, the blacksmiths are coming!

What do the 18th century and the 21st have in common (besides the fact that people are still basically the same and no amount of technology changes that)? Well, Ball and Ball is a family fun business that sells antique and antique style hardware, and they do it in a thoroughly modern way, through their web site. Yes, you know the drill, sell your stuff online. But if they can do it, you can do it. Molli Nickell introduces you to the Balls.

WDDX (Web Distributed Data eXchange - for Techies only)

If you're the kind of Web developer that understands cryptic acronyms and needs all of the power they stand for, then you'll be interested in WDDX. If you aren't highly technical and don't need your Web site to work like a software program, reading this article may give you a headache :)

tips

One More Reason To Use NetObjects Fusion

If you've read the FuseLetter you know I always say it pays to use NetObjects Fusion. Now the NetObjects Affiliate program pays you to let others in on what you know—that NetObjects Fusion is the fastest easiest way to build a web site.

All you have to do is sign up for the program at: http://affiliate.netobjects.com/ Once approved (it's painless) simply place a button or banner on your web site that links to the affiliate site. If you use NetObjects Fusion, there's even a nifty component that'll do the work for you.

When someone clicks on the button or banner and buys a copy of NetObjects Fusion 4.01, you get paid 10% of the sale which works out to be about $30. Not bad for a little button. What was that URL again? Oh, that's right, http://affiliate.netobjects.com/

NAVIGATION NICETIES

First, lately a lot of people seem to want navigation apps that work kind of like the Windows Explorer. I've found a few.

Perhaps the most flexible I've found was written by Patrick Chan, one of the original Java team members. It's at http://navworks.i-us.com/javaapp1.asp - It's small and simple (and even on my slow computer it came in fast), and while it doesn't create Windows Explorer-type navigation, it does create very useful expanding/contracting navigation with a lot of formatting choices. And while the NavWorks page it's on looks great, be warned that you must scroll to the bottom to find the links to try out this app. But do take a look.

If you want pure HTML solutions that work automatically from within NetObjects Fusion, try http://club.coolmaps.com . They have three really useful navigation components that build themselves automatically based on your site structures. Sitemap creates something that looks like NetObjects Fusion's own sitemap, with little icons. Text Tree creates more Windows-Explorer like navigation. And Title Wave makes "Yahoo-like" lists (such as eFuse: Design: Content: Meeks ).

 

Herman Miller is a furniture company with a long history of creating cutting edge things. Their furniture is top notch (I highly recommend their space-age Aeron chair, which I'm sitting in even as I type) and so is their web site.

What's best about their site is not that it's "cool" (cool only gets you so far, and usually not far enough) but that it's smart. It's well designed. You can find what you're looking for. It's interesting to look at and use. You can buy anything they make, online. And to help you decide to buy, they have tons of information about all their products and the research behind them.

It's also fun. When you go to the page I mention above, move your mouse over the red "Herman Miller" text and logo in the upper left corner of the page. A menu will slide out (very slick—and useful). Now, take a moment to find and click on a very small "!" in a circle. I was delighted. I think you will be, too, but that's all I'll say about it.

One more fun thing to try on their site: go to http://www.hermanmiller.com/neocon99/things/index.h tml and click on "play with toys." It's not so much a toy as a very clever and entertaining way to get across some otherwise dull information.

No wonder they're saying "yahoo!"

Not that long ago Yahoo paid a few billion dollars for GeoCities, a "build your own site here for free" site. Some people thought they overpaid, but now it looks like they are getting more than anyone bargained for. Their new service agreement says that anything you place on your page on GeoCities becomes their property, royalty free, forever!

As my mother used to say, "How lovely for them."

If you have a site there, you need to think twice. Do you really want to give away your work, your text, your graphics, your ideas to them? For nothing? I don't think so.

If you have a site there, maybe it's time to consider eFuse.com's special "NetObjects for $99" offer and get yourself a real web site. http://www.efuse.com/Start_Here/nof_for_99.html

Don't give away what's yours. OWN YOUR OWN WEB.

New Music

David Rakowski, the designer of the Lanksy font you can get free from eFuse when you answer a few questions about ¥whats bugging you and Pulitzer Prize musical finalist has a new CD out. I mention it, because he's a friend of eFuse (and a friend of mine, and any friend of mine is a friend of eFuse and yours, of course). The CD is called "HYPERBLUE" (CRI CD 820). You can ~read more about it and it's available at record stores nationwide or you can order directly from CRI call 212-941-9673 or visit CRI's web site at: http://www.composersrecordings.com/order.html

One Final Word (OK, it's more like 87, but who's counting?)

The fact that we can take time to think about what we really want means that most of us already have much of what we need. If you do, consider yourself lucky. A lot of people don't. Many people still just want something to eat. You can help them by visiting http://www.secondharvest.org/websecha/f_getouc.htm and donating to a local food bank.

Then enjoy yourself. And in the process, who knows, maybe you'll figure it out. If you do, tell me. We can sell it to others for $3 :)

 

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The SchoomozeLetter is ©1998-2005, Daniel Will-Harris, all rights reserved. If you'd like to use any article on the web or in print, please ask for permission. If you're an agent or publisher looking to publish these pieces, just drop me a note.