Laughter is the Only Answer

First posted on my blogspot, c. 2004-2006. Amended 29 December 2016. This is light-hearted humor with a hint of truth.

LEGEND


Laughter. The Web-Designers Choice of Drug.

This is a humorous analysis of the professional support-sites offering the average layman the opportunity to have their business displayed on the WWW.

Many try their hand at HTM-Hell at freebie-wizard sites (ie, Angelfire, Geocities, Homestead) where they are thrown at the deep end, expected to know all from day one. Most don’t.

The few that tackle it head-on have at last three attempts at producing some kind of lame excuse for presenting images with a:link borders that flow down the page because float:left; proves paradoxical to the average Joe to create in a 4 x 4 pattern.

Or else they will be a pure text, in paragraph format, because they are the easiest attributes to write, flowing down the page, with external-links found whilst learning how to traverse around the internet.

Most links will be dead before you know that their site exists. Because the people who started their learning in Angelfire, etc, have since moved onto bigger and better sites, have their own domain, are getting 10M hits a week, and are now ‘specializing‘ their data.

And now they write their thoughts instead of plagiarizing from others. Direct quoting was never a good idea.

The point being that the following is a humorous look at how the average newbie sees the whole Internet Learning Curve, from navigation-newbie to HTML-wholesaler.

Why the Internet Wins

The Internet is a conglomeration of a whole lot of genuinely good ideas that spilled from a lot of money-making minds. The truth is, the Internet was never meant to be used by the layman, was never meant to be for this many people, and was only ever meant to be used by the bigger organizations to allow their data to be transferred between buildings.

Ken Olsen, one of the early pioneers was quoted saying “I cant see why anyone would want a computer in their home“. Some days I believe he was right.

We don’t all need computers at home. But, as humans, we have a mostly empty brain that needs filling. Most people want to learn, even if they never use that information for any reason. Nobody needs to know, yet everyone wants to know.

When the Internet was revealed to the general public as a ‘modern newspaper’ it was swallowed up by the masses. Everyone had to have this device. Either for personal gain, viewing pleasure, or to learn what it’s all about.

Unprofessional Web Design

Web-Site-Designers are in a field of our own. They outnumber the MSN and IRC’ers 2 to 1, spending 80% of their lives learning all that we can about every conceivable area of expertise.

Sleep is a luxury.
Caffeine is our mistress.
Day jobs suffer because of it.
Night time is our friend.
Spare time no longer exists.
Television is the devil.

We knew that before we started online-training OR $12,000 part-time Diploma in Multimedia Studies.

We endeavored to produce websites both visually appealing and extremely functional. Yet as many of the viewers of such websites are not running a browser that either complies nor supports the mediums we choose to use to make this possible, we sometimes a let these practices slip.

We have learnt, by both trial and error, that the average layman doesn’t honestly care about appearances : It’s all about load time. How many people can afford ADSL, with (supposedly) unlimited download? Admittedly, its getting cheaper and cheaper. But since most cannot, it seems stupid to continue creating sites that appeal to them. Just supply the information, and walk away. There is a flip side to this. A lot users will instantly close a window to a web page that is nothing but text, devoid of color, and is 3px borders to its tables.

Joe Citizen is learning the basics of HTML. That is dangerous to web-designers. Joe Citizen knows how to “Email the Webmaster” with comments. Invariably these comments are not about whether they received a product: They are about the coding of the side, spelling errors, inconsistent styling, strange use of fonts, i.e. Times New Roman when the rest of the site is in Arial, and most importantly, that the website looks horrendous in

.

“Your website is a virtual representation of your business”.

This sentence was taken straight from a popular website. Yet we see everyday on television this is very UN-true. Most websites look hideous in comparison with the business they are trying to represent.

The only good websites are those that are not selling a product! The creators don’t run a business, have no overheads, nor have any other responsibility. They haven’t handed the project onto an external company, nor let it be done by staff who attended a 2-day seminar on “Using MS Word to Write HTML“.

The better websites are created by people with a passion, a daily desire to ensure their viewers get the latest data, enjoy being at the website, and want to stay.

Yet the small businesses “having a go at it” using MS Publisher need to STOP before they completely stuff it up. You’d be better off slitting your wrists with a fork and letting the blood drip out your suicide message onto napkins. It would have the same effect – Ugly, messy, and completely unreadable nor decipherable. Farm this project out, and to someone who has artistic flair, plus a professional attitude, whilst not being tied up with too many responsibility.

Don’t hand it to your son when he says he has learnt about “Aich T Em Elle” in his High School Art class. Wait till he has attended a 2 day course in “Sea Ess Ess“, then created his multicolored embossed business cards, plus dyed his hair bright green before telling him that he can ‘have a go‘, but at his own expense. Be smart with your company money, especially with family!

But if you are going to farm it out, ask the creator which websites they visit for inspiration, fordesign ideas, and how they put their pages together. Ask them if they know what “external CSS and JScript” means. They will have visited www.glish.com, www.htmlgoodies.com, and instinctively dig the source-code of the bigger sites straining them of useful JavaScript’s, interesting dropdown menu construction.

Premium to Overdone eCommerce

The eCommerce industry is complicated, and requires a PhD in Life, The Universe, and Everything. You need to know the answer and the original question. And that the dolphins and mice were the ones that wanted the earth destroyed.

Slartibartfast was in the original crew that invented the word ‘eCommerce‘. His race had the monopoly on creation rich, matrix-integrated, client-side-configured, fully-hosted planetoids for use by the customer to store their data on. They had it worked out. I am sure they are still running that enterprise on our little ball of mud. Only now, they have changed their name to Bill Gates and Steve Jacobs. I have nothing more to say on this issue.

Not as Easy to Use as they Say

The ultimate oxymoron. Kinda. It’s easy to use by those of us whom had acquired that PhD.

For the average layman, eCommerce is still a barrel of green, yellow, and brown wires with flashing lights and a timer counting down to zero. The wire colors keep changing, the timer keeps jumping around, the barrel keeps moving location, and the shopfront windows are clouded over.
Another case of “out of place, out of space, what a waste, who put in the leather and lace, and oh my, that’s not my face!

Return the Shopping Cart

Any smart man will say “Even perfection requires maintenance“. A less smart man will stop learning once he has is diploma, degree, designer stubble, or decorated paper, and allow himself to stagnate and plateau out.

Not me. In an attempt to put some humor into the realm of “Fully Integrated Store Front and Shopping Cart“, I will spend time researching this subject. The Internet suddenly becomes a wonderful medium from which to research and learn. I will be nice to everyone and make no comment at this time.

Search, and you will find. Research, and you will learn.
quote by Stephen Mitchell (Me), c.2004

Automated Search Engine Optimization and Submission

Google has forced everyone to believe all will be Okay, and that the search engine will find them. To some degree this is true. What it doesn’t say is this one simple word: EVENTUALLY.

You see, search engines don’t immediately know your site is on the Internet, and many don’t find you until you are linked to a great many other sites. Google explains on their site that a myriad of pigeons are responsible for locating and linking the plethora of websites to their engines.

That’s the funny way they say it. The truth is their ‘engine‘ is a jumble of calculations that use information from ALL the sites they visit to determine a sites rank (order of listing) when a users searches for a site.

If you want your site to be seen, you need to have first been seen by a lot of people who then have to have linked to you from your site. It all seems a bit backwards, but this seems to be the popular way of doing it. Google is now a billion dollar stock-exchange-listed website, so they must know a bit about this field.

Yet the website creator has to ensure the search engine notices them. Much like this article, I have included a lot of technical jargon and chosen keywords that ensure Google notices me, then Users notice me, then Google pushes my rank closer to number one. The pattern becomes clearer as we write it down. It works… eventually.

Or you could pay money to submit your site to the major search engines. But why bother, when your site will get listed on them… eventually.

Dramatised Traffic Statistics

Here is an industry where you can place a counter on your website that gives an indication of the traffic of users visiting your site. Have you ever done this?

There are sites that allow free counters, but they include advertising – and often that advertising is of products you don’t normally associate. While you are trying to press that smoking kills, the free advertisement with your traffic-counter is flashing “FREE cigar with every purchase” (OK, you are unlikely to see that, it’s only an analogy!)

Many of those counters are ‘manageable‘, allowing you to amend the statistics to include bogus webtraffic. I had one recently where it asked me what number I wanted to start from! I put 700, it didn’t ask why, it just accepted it. After installation it occurred to me “I could have put 7,000,000,000!“, but then figured the search engines would know if that was true or not.

This is one component of your site you want to ensure is done right and accurately. Don’t play with it, unless you are ONLY keeping a tally and not a complex detailed knowledge bases of your traffic where you want to trace your viewers back to their home country, state, street, mothers maiden name, and if are real lucky , their credit card 16 digit figure and PIN number

Affordable Pricing?

Here is an interesting oxymoron of English words. “You will not find a more affordable alternative to #&$K.com ~ You pay only $175, plus a monthly service fee of $9.95“.

Who can afford this? To be honest, this cost is pretty good. But the point is this. Joe Citizen doesn’t know what is good or bad when it comes to being charged for these products. He doesn’t know that he can be ripped off by online accountants who do know that Joe hasn’t checked out what the product price should be. Joe/Joanne needs to read through the manuals, discover what they really need, get a grounding in the components that their site may or may not require, understand how HTML and CSS should be designed, and then…

HOLD ON! Isn’t that what we don’t want!? By this time, the customer will know as much as us web-site-designers. NO!

Now you can see just how effective and easy to use The Internet can be, without paying a dime. If you really want to learn more about this unique product, please sign up with a local Internet Provider. The rest is in your hands!

DISCLAIMER: Not one numerical calculation, sum or ratio is valid, nor has been researched, and is potentially wrong, but could be correct. All figures were approximated at time of writing. Because we have stated this fact, we take no responsibility for anyone stupid enough to trust them. It just sometimes feels like these figures are accurate.

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