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Make me over

I've always said that a web site is like your personality in pixels. So the original eFuse.com home page was an accurate a reflection of me. When people told me it was wordy, I just said, "Yeah, so, I don't see anything wrong with it, I mean, it's descriptive, it's informative, it's long, big deal, what of it, it works this way and I have feedback to prove it." See—loquacious (not to mention a very long sentence).

But sometimes, even when you're happy with yourself (or your web site), you want to see what you can do to improve. Despite being naturally verbose, I've always known it's important to condense your message (and believe it or not, I have done that in the past!).

It's also an issue of "who you are," vs. "who you want to be." The existing page was detailed and plain, and I decided to try for concise and enticing.

So I tried to rethink the home page—from scratch—always a good exercise, even if you end up deciding that what you have is fine. I spent the last few weeks trying out many different variations, each time e-mailing people I know and respect and asking their opinion (and learning from them). I learned just how tricky it can be to do something tricky that works for most people and I'll be writing an article going into detail about this in the near future.

For now, I'm happy with it. I hope you are, too.

articles

 

HEAR YE, HEAR YE

Want your Web message to be heard loud and clear? Bob Weibel introduces you to audio on the web. He explains the basics of audio file formats, and shows you the easiest way to add sound to your site. Come hear what you've been missing.

SEVEN STEPS TO YOUR SECOND DRAFT

"Writing about writing is like talking about sex" (or so columnist Chris Meeks pondered as he looked at his gorgeous blue screen). Doing it better is no easy feat—but here are seven steps you can take to help (your writing).

WANT TO DOUBLE YOUR SITE TRAFFIC OVERNIGHT?

Who doesn't? But maybe it's time to get real. Daniel Janal explains how even if you're doing well, if you're not realistic you can be unhappy, and how even good ideas can get you nowhere if they aren't well executed. Then he teaches some important lessons to learn when it comes to marketing.

HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM CHIMICHANGAS?

Take "Two hot tamales" (a.k.a. world class chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger), one happening restaurant (Santa Monica's The Border Grill), a very smart manager and add a dash of NOF and you end up with one sizzling web site. Learn how Peter Barnett created a tasty and tasteful web site for one of LA's hottest restaurants.

TEWTORIALS – MOUSE, CAMERA, ACTIONS!

Yes, Grasshopper, you too can learn to create dramatic interactive pages in NetObjects Fusion. Martial arts master Rick Tew gives you simple, clear, step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow. Also included are Fusion template files you can download and use, and even animated screen tutorials! In this lesson, he shows you how to add highlighted rollovers in conjunction with mouse over actions using layers. Eek!

YOU, TOO CAN DO TRICKY
HOME PAGE STUFF

As I said, I'm writing an article about designing the new eFuse.com home page, but in the mean time I wanted to give special thanks to the people at coolmaps.com. After all my experiments, their excellent rollover component was the easiest (and most efficient) way to create these effects (with absolutely no programming!). Visit their site to learn more.

 

Here are the questions I'm asked most often:

  • HOW DO I ADD FULL-TEXT SEARCH TO MY SITE?
    Try www.thunderstone.com (that's what I use on eFuse). It's free, easy to set up and it does a great job. Adding full-text search makes it much easier for people to find what they're looking for on your site. Now there's no excuse not to have it.
  • HOW DO I ADD FORMS TO MY SITE?
    First, you have to create the form itself (with NetObjects Fusion you don't need to worry about HTML, just drag and drop forms). Then, to process the forms, try http://www.response-o-matic.com also free and easy (I like things that way).
  • HOW CAN I TAKE CREDIT CARDS ON MY SITE WHEN I DON'T HAVE A MERCHANT ACCOUNT?
    Try PayPal, one more easy thing, though not free. There's no sign up fee, no monthly fee, you don't need a merchant account and they give you a full, secure shopping cart. Their fee is as low as a merchant account, just around 2.5% and 30 cents per transaction. (http://www.will-harris.com/store.htm ) for almost a year and am very happy with their service.

OFF LINE READING:

A lot of people ask me how to save copies of eFuse for offline reading. The best way is probably a little program called SurfSaver. You can download a free 30 day trail version at the URL above.

If you like it and want to buy it, you're in luck. FuseLetter readers get a special deal—just $19.95 ($10 off of the regular price). To buy it, go to

https://www.asksam.com/purchase/s15down.asp

and when it asks for the distributor code, enter "FuseLetter" (without the quote marks!)

 

STAR WARS-ISH FONT:

Download a free font inspired by the Star Wars typeface (it's not official, but it's quite nice) from Ethan Dunham, an excellent font (and web) designer. While you're there, look at the other fonts he sells—a unique font can totally change the look of your site and make it much more memorable.

JAVA JIVE:

I know I said I don't like Java apps on home pages, but this site has some really clever, small, fast and useful applets, if not for your home page, then for your site.

My favorites are a small program for displaying ever changing quotes and a beautifully done navigation tool that creates collapsible/expandable tree lists like the Windows Explorer or Mac finder.

These programs are all "Careware" a very positive idea about how transactions can work without money.

I know I've met very interesting people from the web, and sometimes I provide services without pay and ask them to donate to a local charity instead. I like it when people send me something they've made rather than something they've bought. It's more interesting and personal. These very well done applets appear to be Paul Lutus's gift to everyone on the web, and in return, he just wants you to do something kind for someone. Who can argue with that?

Share Your Knowledge

Last but not least—I'm looking for a few good readers who want to become good writers. If you have something to say about web design, web production, or web promotion, email me at and let me know what you'd like to write about. I can't promise I'll accept every offer (hey, this is the real world we're talking about), but I am always interested in what you have to say—and if others might be interested, too, then I'm happy to have you contribute.

I'm always looking for people who built their first site in Fusion for our "My first time" column, and now I'm starting a new column called "Been There, Done That," so people can write about their web creation experiences, not just their first time. So e-mail me if you want to tell your story. It's good publicity for your site, and good news for people who can learn from you.

A final thought

Well, now it's time to "face the music" (a TV game show I was actually on long enough ago that TVs could be operated even without a remote control). Let me know what you think about the home page. And take some time to try something new yourself.

Daniel Will-Harris

 

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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.