Internet citizenship

Satisfying your audience

If these are the things that annoy people, what are the things that people like about the Web? Part of it comes down to the things that they can do with the Web that they can't do otherwise.


There is one sort of "message" that you can deliver via the Web that you can't easily deliver in any other way. That is a service. For example, the Yellow Pages Web site (you guessed it: provides a system that tells you what the time is somewhere else in the world. If you are trying to contact someone overseas, that is a really valuable service.

If you are selling something via the Web, offer your customers a currency converter. That way, they can work out what it will cost in terms that are meaningful to them.

One of the most common, and commonly used, services that organizations offer is the humble telephone directory. On-line, it can be searched or browsed and often provides both phone numbers and e-mail addresses.

These sorts of services are examples of how the Web can carry a message which cannot be conveyed by traditional publishing systems.


A Web site often works as a simple way to introduce new customers to your organisation. Often people will use the e-mail address at the bottom of a Web page to contact you.

This is one way that "a little kid with a Web site and a major corporation" do really differ. The little kid will probably write back to you.

Recently, a dozen or so of Europe's top companies were tested to see how long it took them to respond to an e-mail sent via their Web site. Almost none of them responded. When the researchers made inquiries to see why they didn't respond, they found that most of the e-mail wasn't going to anyone at all. It was just disappearing into a black hole.

A little kid usually wouldn't be that rude.


There is no point in putting up a Web site if you have nothing to say. More importantly, there is no point in putting up a Web site that doesn't say anything useful.

"Brochureware" is the term used for a Web site which is really just a bunch of electronic brochures. Advertising copy which doesn't really tell you anything useful.

For example, let's say that Lynne is planning to make a Web site for Business Communications. She could put up a little page, describing the subject, or she could put up past exams and examples of good reports that students have written.

I know which one I would prefer as a student.