pasted into a Web site. One look and you have seen all there is to see. The advent of technologies such as Shockwave, Java, MP3 and steamed audio and video has made Web sites exciting places to visit. As long as download times are kept very short, they add a lot to the experience.
We know that content is very significant and when it is presented using these techniques, it holds the attention of the visitor. The caveat is that these are aids to content not interactivity for the sake of it.
The temptation to tart-up effectively the company brochure with wizzy Shockwave graphics was a phase Web designers went through in 1998 and became an irritant and hindrance to get through to the information required.
These technologies can be used to bring added information and content to the visitor without loosing the essential purpose of the site. In such circumstances, they are an added bonus.
Inclusion of chat and discussion groups requiring investment in a moderator or product managers has proved to be very helpful for a lot of companies. It is very important that these sites are visited and used. If not the give an impression of people having no interest, and by inference that the site is not popular. In addition if left alone to fend for themselves they quickly go off message and get filled with all manner of cranks and wannabes.
As most people want to access and exchange information, the most important part of any Web site is its ability to take the visitor through to the information needed and for there to be trust in the information provided. Well posted links through the sight, access to additional (even detailed) information if needed and the means to navigate back to select more germane information is critical.
So many comments are made about well constructed and interesting sites that they can quickly attract an almost cult following and the reputation of the brand is very much enhanced.
Being able to interact with information outside the site is appealing and the use of hyperlinks is an attractive advantage. Opening new windows helps a company keep in touch with the visitor while this side exploration is continued. Not being able to escape a site is an irritant and there is evidence that many netzines block these sites from their browsers.
Interactivity is manifest in a number of other ways In 1998 only 8% of the US Fortune 500 company Websites gave a contact person for customers despite a widely held belief that the Internet fosters closer customer relations.
Only 25 percent had a email contact address and 33.3 percent had no telephone number. In the UK, access to contacts is very patchy and all sites should provide ready access (from every page) to a multiplicity of method for contact. Despite a shortage for skilled workers, 90 percent of sites, in the survey gave no contact name for job applications and only 16 percent had a final posting date
therefore prospective workers can not tell if the position is filled or not.
Two thirds of the sites provided an facility for potential or existing investors to download financial
information, less than a third give a contact person for investors and one fifth did not publish an annual report.
If communication is about anything it is a two way street. In the Internet Society, this is an absolute must. The reputation for being unapproachable is not one to foster at the best of times and yet is a common feature of many Internet sites.