Tales from the web

Date of publication: January 1, 1997

Abstract:

The Internet reminds me of Las Vegas, said one of the developers I interviewed when researching this paper. He was right. Like Las Vegas, the world wide web offers stunning shows of human invention and mind-boggling choices mixed with crass commercialism, gaudiness and a myriad of strange glittering things. On the web like in Las Vegas anything goes - and there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But most of all, on the web just as in Las Vegas a lot of time and money is wasted. How many commercial sites are just vanity sites - useless on-line brochures which hardly anyone except the company's management and competitors bother to look up? How many corporate sites have been announced with fanfare only to be discontinued or half-frozen in still life a few months later, after some high-level executive asked in a board meeting: But whose idea was it to start this web site, anyway? And what are we getting out of it? As in Las Vegas, one can find the good, the bad and the ugly in web marketing and communications: the triumph of a Federal Express site, and countless failed attempts at harnessing this new media. Thus the question: What makes a commercial web site work? How can marketers get the most of the Internet? Answering this simple question is the simple purpose of this simple paper.

Philippe Boutié

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