May 22, 2000-- Newsletter #81

By Joe Burns

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Goodies to Go (tm)
May 22, 2000--Newsletter #81
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Please visit http://www.htmlgoodies.com
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Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warriors,
Did you hear...
The Webby Awards are out! Why don't they broadcast this on TV? Some of the lucky winners were: The Onion for best comedy site, MSNBC for best news site, Google for best search engine, and Napster for best music site. Winners were allowed only five words during their acceptance speech. When asked what makes an award-winning site, winner Kurt Ehrenberg mused, "If they're bored, they're gone." Good point.
The U.S. Post Office is upping its image in the world of e-mail. The Post Electronic Courier Service (www.framed.usps.com/postecs) is offering certified e-mail. Stop by now--it's free for 30 days, then it's $1.70 per send.
Because of the timing of these newsletters, I was way behind the curve to get a newsletter out on the ILOVEYOU virus, but here's a heads up for the next one:
It's called KAK. It works a great deal like the Love Bug except, unlike most e-mail viruses, this pup preys on e-mail programs that understand HTML. You needn't click on anything once you open the e-mail message - just opening the message is enough to trigger the virus. Gosh. Computers running Internet Explorer 5.0 or Microsoft Office 2000 are most at risk because the virus uses a wormhole found in the program's ActiveX control called scriptlet.typelib. No word yet on a subject message to look out for.
Now on to today's topic...
Gentlemen, have you been noticing any new and seemingly foreign bookmarks on your browser lately? I woke up one morning and there, under my list of favorites, was a bookmark on hiking and camping. I wouldn't go camping if you put a rope around my waist and dragged me. Then, there was a link under my eBay favorites bidding on... bidding on a... garden ornament!
Something was amiss in the computer land of Joe. Either one of the cats has grown a thumb or my wife had taken up web surfing. I checked the cats, and sure enough, my wife had made her way to the net.
When I confronted her about it, she told me to shut up. I did.
After almost five years of my making part of my living on the Web, my wife has acquired a taste for surfing. Go figure.
For those of you who run Web sites, here's a big heads-up. Over the past six months, more than 9 million women have made their way to the Web. That's about 10% of all the women who live in the U.S. Just five years ago, less than ten percent of the Web's users were women, now they make up over half of the users on the Web.
I read a study that just came out that actually offered some eye-opening information on the topic. It was done by the Pew Internet and American Life project. Dig this:
Who plays more games on the Web, men or women? Women, 37% to 32%! You thought men did, didn't you? Chauvinist.
Who uses the Web more for shopping? Women, right? (Buzzer sound effect here). It's men, 80% to 67%.
The survey points out that women tend to enter into shopping with a far more cautious eye than men have. Apparently we'll throw a credit card at anything that moves.
Women take to e-mail far faster than men do. The survey points out that 65% of women using the Web claim they couldn't live without e-mail, whereas only 55% of men said the same.
Women reported using e-mail to strengthen bonds between friends and family. The study found that a person who is an e-mail user is far more likely to visit or phone a friend than a non e-mail user. They also, somehow, suggested that an e-mail user is more likely to personally visit someone a day earlier than a non e-mail user. I'm not quite sure how they would have measured that, but what the hey.
Men want stocks, scores, and other quantitative information. We want it fast and we want to explain the information we demand. Women want more interactive information. They sought health, religious, job research, and gaming online.
Women were more likely to report the Web as being a tool for reducing isolation. If you remember a few newsletters back, I suggested that. Remember the survey done by Stanford University that said the Web was an isolating tool? This survey skews that theory.
Whereas statistics can be fun (*giggle*). When I read a survey, one of the things I look for is a separating variable. What is it that breaks people into groups? Well, if you think it's gender, think again. It's age.
The statistics above don't give the entire picture. The survey results show that under the age of 30, men and women tend to act very much alike. They download music equally, search information equally, and use the hardware equally. Once the sample respondents were 30 or above, then the big changes I noted above were seen.
That makes sense. If we say the Web itself is 6 or 7 years old, then a thirty year old today would have been 23 or 24 at the start. That's someone who didn't grow up with the technology and starting using it in relation to their previous wants and desires. Someone under 30 might have grown up, male or female, using the equipment equally. I know that doesn't explain it fully, but I can at least see some validity on the results.
What this all boils down to is that Web sites must start catering to multiple audiences, offering all something to make them stay put once they arrive. No longer can one focus on a "Webby" audience made up of male techno-geeks. The Web is becoming a place where all walks of life are arriving by the truckload.
Those of you who have a Web site, it's time to stop and think seriously about who makes up your audience. We're well past the stage where we can simply proclaim, "everyone is my audience". Figure out whom you're geared to and begin pointing your site at that group. The biggest two questions: are my visitors male or female; and if so, are they over 30 or not?
Ah, I yearn for the days when just plopping up a site would do the trick. When, "sign my guestbook" and "here are my favorite links" was enough to keep a visitor busy for hours.
Those were the days...
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That's that. I am on summer break from school, and today I begin writing the introductory chapters of "Design Goodies." I'm going to try and keep to writing ten pages a day. Sometimes the pages come inside three hours. Other times it takes ten hours. I just have to keep reminding myself to get up and eat something now and again.
Joe Burns, Ph.D.
And remember: The mosquitoes here in Louisiana have come out in force. As I have been told, know your enemy. Did you know that only the female mosquitoes bite? Males only eat plant nectar and water. Also--did you know that scratching stops the itch because you are actually hurting yourself by scratching? You simply replace a low-level reaction with a pain reaction. Odd.

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