Your Presence on the Internet
by Duane Bristow
August 5, 1996
- What is the Internet?
- The Internet is the largest, most democratic, and most widespread
publishing medium ever known. About 50 million people from all over the world
have access to it and everyone can publish on it if they desire. The number of
people with access is doubling about every six to eight months or so.
- What is the purpose of the Internet?
- Because of its nature, the purpose of the Internet is to provide a
widespread and cheap method of distributing information, and communication
- What are the numbers?
- How many people have access?
- Nobody knows, probably about 50 million with many more projected in the future. Probably within five years 50% to 75% of the people in the United States will have access and maybe 15% to 25% of the people in the world.
- How many people actually use it regularly?
- Maybe 16 million but the percentage of those who have access actually using it will increase greatly.
- How much information is out there?
- It has been estimated that there are 50 to 80 million pages with maybe 60,000 being added per day.
- Can I have a site on the Internet?
- Sure. Anybody can. It's simple to have a site on the Internet.
What's not simple is to accomplish anything worthwhile with that site.
Although many high school kids and even grade schoolers can develop an
Internet site and many companies sell that service, very few seem to have any
conception of how to use the nature of the Internet to get worthwhile results.
- Should I have a site on the Internet?
- Yes, if you first understand what you are trying to accomplish, what
it is likely to cost you, and what results you can expect. Be aware though
that because it is such a new medium; the World Wide Web has only existed
since 1993; nobody really knows what to expect in the future. This is
one reason that it is important to get a site on the Internet early. For your
site to be successful you must have time to get a feel for your particular
audience, how to develop your site to attract them, and how to publicize your
site to reach them. Also it takes time to get the links and develop the
contacts in this Brave New World so that you can accomplish something.
- How should I approach it?
- Write a realistic statement of objectives.
- Be sure your site is set up and administered by someone who knows the
nature of the Internet and not just the technical details of how to get you on
- Be sure you or your web master is willing to spend a lot of time
maintaining the site. To simply put up a few static pages of information and
leave them on the Internet is unlikely to accomplish any objective unless your
information is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
- Basic rules of developing and maintaining an Internet site:
- Keep it simple. Remember, your objective is to distribute
information. The information should be available as text supplemented and
enhanced by pictures. Remember, part of your potential audience has a text
only browser and it would be kind of dumb to exclude a whole segment of your
audience. Also remember that many people have slow Internet connections so
lots of pictures or fancy multimedia effects will only frustrate them and make
them go elsewhere. You know, yours is not the only site out there and if they
lose interest it only takes the click of a mouse button and you've lost them.
- Start with a relatively fast loading front page that gives
the visitor a sense of the purpose of the site and what he can expect to find
there. It should get his attention and give him an idea of the value of the
site to him. The site must have value, either in interesting information,
entertainment, or business. It must give him something he wants free of
charge. If not, why should he stay around?
- The site must be easy to understand and navigate. It
should have a text navigation bar on every page and, if it is a large site, it
should have an index. Other things to consider are site maps and tours.
- The site must be dynamic. It should have current
information updated regularly. It should encourage interaction with the
webmaster usually by email or on screen forms. Any email or form information
received must get a response within 24 to 48 hours. Assuming that one
objective of the site is to encourage repeat visits, you must realize that a
stale site simply won't do that.
- The site must be publicized. Be sure you or your web master is
willing to spend time effectively promoting your site on the Internet itself
by submissions to search engines and newsgroups and by developing links and
- The site should be located on a server with high speed internet
access and high quality equipment able to handle large volumes of data and
traffic. A company dedicated to being a presence provider rather than also an
access provider is preferred.
- What will it cost?
- The Discovery Channel spent about $10 million on their site.
Time-Warner spent about $50 million.
I estimate your site will cost about $500 to $1,000 to develop. Your
site will cost about $150 per month for Internet space and a minimum amount of
maintenance. Monthly maintenance costs will vary depending on how your site
is set up.
- What results can I expect?
- I don't know. In one year my site went from zero visits per day to
100 to 300 visitors per day with each visitor looking at an average of 2
As for business leads, it must be remembered that the nature of my business
requires that people who do business with me live in southern Kentucky or
northern Tennessee. Almost no one in that area had access to the Internet
during most of that first year. Even now there are probably not over 3 to 6
people in Clinton County who use it regularly. That should change
dramatically during the next one to two years.
- Number of hits the first year - about 150,000.
- Number of visitors the first year - about 30,000.
- Number who read more than one page - about 10,000
- Number who read more than two pages - about 5,000.
- Number who sent me email - about 300 to 500.
- Number who come back often - about 200 to 300.
- Number of new friends and acquaintances - about 60.
- Number of business leads obtained - maybe 10.
- Amount of awareness of me and my business and my life - lots.
Last revised August 5, 1996.
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