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"There were more people on the Internet
in its first 5 years than there were on the telephone in its first
"A population the size of the UK
joins the World Wide Web every 6 months!"
"Internet traffic doubles every
This is a commercial that plays on
TV advertising Cisco Network equipment. These are staggering statistics
indeed. The UK has a population of 58,556,000, so you can see the
potential of the Internet. In Fact research shows that E-Commerce
was a $2.8 Million industry in 1996. Experts forecast that the will
balloon to $1.3 Billion by the year 2003, and some feel that this
is a conservative figure!
All of the "net gurus" tell you that
you need to promote yourself on the Internet. Others say "there is
NO reason for not having an e-mail." I tried saying that at one of
my first presentations to a business group and was quickly brought
down to a more common level. A nice lady asked, mostly to herself,
"what if you don't have a computer?" When I regained consciousness,
I scrambled to understand the meaning in her words. Did she mean her
children owned the computer? Did she mean her computer was damaged?
Or did she actually mean that she didn't have a computer at all? The
answer was simple but not as obvious as one would think. I go into
the solution below.
In your dealings with other business
people or potential clients, I'm sure you've gotten challenged, as
I have, with the question of: "I'd love to talk to you more, what's
your e-mail address?" or "I don't have time to see your presentation,
but I'd love the find out more. What's your web address?" Part of
AbiliTech's mission is to help you promote your business to your clients
at home and around the world!
Please read on, but if you click
on the menu box below, you can go directly to the section that interests
"The Information Superhighway, or
the Internet, is composed of networks, computer systems and electronic
I found the preceding description
in a book from 1994 called "The Information Superhighway Illustrated
- The Full Color Guide To How It All works" by Que Publishing. In
effect this is an accurate description. But the Internet has become
so much more to users around the world. It has provided us with information,
helped us research our preferred subjects, taught us courses we may
not have had access to previously, and kept us in touch with our colleagues,
partners, and loved ones. "The Information Superhighway" is such a
cold and fast moving name.
The first thing that needs to be
done is to choose an ISP. This service provider will give you a method
to link up with the Internet, whether it be via telephone line, television
cable, or microwave antenna. Once you have access to their Internet
Server, you will have access to the Internet.
There are many ISP in the world.
Some have been around for a long time, others keep joining the list
of providers daily. The services offered and charges for these vary
greatly, but some of the things you want to look for are: Local Access
Number - that is, can you call into their web server with a local
call? You don't want to pay long distance toll charges to access the
Internet if you can avoid it.
- How many? What type? The two main types are POP3 (Post Office Protocol)
and SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol). You'll need to know this
so you can configure your e-mail viewer.
- How much webspace will be available for your webpage? Will you have
access to the CGI directory? This will give you much more control
over the content of your webpages, in that you will be able to run
some of the more useful forms on your pages, and gather more information
from your visitors.
Bandwidth - This
is how much traffic your website will generate. Typically this will
be on the order of 2 Gigabytes. That is to say if you webpage is 1
Megabyte in size (for argument's sake) you can have 2,000 visitors
look at your page before you start incurring extra charges. A more
realistic size for a webpage is around 50 Kilobytes, so that translates
to 40,000 visitors to your site before incurring more charges. After
that the ISPs start to charge by the Megabyte.
What would you e-mail address be,
and what about your webpage address? - ISPs charge you for their services,
and the advertise their services by giving you an e-mail or website
address that reflects the fact that they are your service provider.
Your e-mail could be something like [removed]
. Your website address could be http://members.someprovider.com/ontario/~AD7584937
. Some are much nicer, but others are much worse, and with the recent
changes to the name length rules for website addresses, from 27 to
67 characters long, it could be even longer and harder to type into
Finally, will they Host your Domain
Name for you? - That is, will they support your registered website
address as http://www.yourcompany.com ? Not everyone will do that,
but there are ways to get around that if you find an ISP you would
rather do business with. I'll discuss that below.
There is no standard to look for,
you must shop around and do your due diligence before making a final
decision. A good place to start is http://www.tophost.com .
Even if you have to go through the
library or cyber café way of accessing the Internet, you don't have
to worry about not having your own personal connection to the Internet.
There are many options to having your website hosted, or your own
e-mail that you can promote yourself or your business with wherever
you go. One such service that I use is available at http://www.hotmail.com
from Microsoft. All you need is a browser, your unique ID and your
password, and you can access your e-mail from anywhere in the world!
The limitations there are 2 Megabytes of mail space, and you get to
look at their advertisements whenever you log into your account. They
also run a portal, or a news page with advertisements when you log
out of your account.
Other similar services include http://www.yahoo.com,
http://www.netscape.com. http://www.tripod.com, well if you look up
"free email" on any of the search engines you'll get a good listing
of the services that are available.
Now, how you connect to the Internet
is just as important as who your service provider is, as a matter
of fact, they are sometimes integrated services, such as in the case
of Cable Modem.
Cable modem is usually offered
by your TV Cable provider. I'm not a big cable TV guy, so we've
never gotten that service, so I thought I was unable to get the
Internet access provided by the cable provider, and that saddened
me greatly because of my need for speed! But there came a time
when they were able to provide me this service even though I was
not a cable customer. I am a happy camper!
The Cable Internet service is
one of the fastest services available to the residential market.
It is especially becoming important when one considers how many
people now work from home, and how reliant we are on the Internet
to perform our daily duties. Ask your local cable company if they
can provide you with this service.
ADSL (Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber
Line), which gives you a method to connect to your ISP via your
phone line, but without tying up your phone is one of the most
innovative methods of connecting to the Internet yet.
The Modem they give you is similar
to a regular modem, but the difference here is that you not only
get a modem at your PC, but you get a modem at the local switching
station as well. It is at this point that you will connect to
the Internet. This configuration increases the quality of transmission
significantly because of the dedicated line from your computer
to the phone company's direct link to the Internet, and it doesn't
tie up your phone line, since it only piggybacks it's signal on
the phone line, you can still receive calls and use the phone
as you normally would.
This service is not available
to everyone, because you need to be within a certain distance
of your phone company's switching office, and you have to have
a more recent local service line than most of us have.
The oldest and usual method for
a computer to connect to the Internet is to go through a phone
line. That is, you connect you modem to your phone line and dial
your ISP's web server through your computer. All of your "surfing"
happens through that connection. This is the cheapest way to connect
because most people already have the phone line installed in your
home, or it can be installed relatively cheaply. One of the biggest
challenges to this method is the fact that you can't use your
phone or receive calls once you are on the Internet.
With the availability of fiber
optics, one can predict that the quality of the signal being sent
through the phone line will get better and better, but the main
reason that the fastest modem you can get for your phone line
is 56 Kilobytes, is because of the physical limitations of the
copper wiring from your house to the switching station.
Look Internet is relatively new
to the Internet service provider market, but they are making waves
all the same. These are the people who provide line-of-site digital
television to people in major centres. They do this with microwave
antennas and set-top boxes on your TV.
They also have an Internet function
to their service and have recently partnered with IDirect, one
of the largest ISPs in North America! Their charges are reasonable,
and you can get your Internet connection with or without the Digital
TV connection. They boast speeds of up to 1.5 Megabytes. One of
their disadvantages however, and I hear this will be changing
soon, is that they must use your phone line for the upload portion
of your Internet communication. That is, when you send a request
for information, it goes through your phone line at 56 Kilobytes
/ second, but you get the information at up to 1.5 Megabytes/second!
And that's not bad!!
Whatever you choose, keep a close
eye on the new technology. It keeps coming fast and furious!
As mentioned above, the Internet
is a collection of connected computers. As a result, I must say that
in order to get on the Internet, you need a Computer. (We'll leave
the digital PCS phones and palm devices aside for now.)
Now during one of my presentations
to a business group, I said those infamous words "In this day and
age, there is no reason for you not to have an e-mail address on the
Internet." This nice lady asked under her breath, "What if you don't
have a computer?" I heard that.
One of the obvious options to not
having a computer is to go to a friend who does. But that may not
be the best answer because of the inconvenience to your friend, and
maybe she doesn't like to have others use her computer. There is another
option. Go to your local library.
Your local library will usually have
computers for use that are connected to the Internet. These are usually
free to use, and the only thing you'll need is to bring your own diskette.
If you need to print your findings out on paper, they usually have
a printer nearby that will print directly from the computer for a
Another option is to go to one of
those "Cyber Cafés" which are more popular in the larger centres.
They don't normally have a printer on site for their patrons to print
on, but they usually will let you use their equipment for a nominal
fee, or simply for the purchase of one of their specialty coffees
and a muffin. These also make great meeting places for you and your
clients, where you can show them your wares being promoted on your
The point here is that there is more
than one option for those who have not yet decided to get a computer.
A standard computer these days is
very user friendly and extremely affordable! The computer of the day
has a 300 Megahertz processor (Intel II or III, AMD K62, or Intel
Celeron), a 17" monitor, a 10 Gigabyte hard drive, a 22X CD ROM (minimum),
a 3.5 inch floppy drive, 32 Megabytes of RAM (minimum), a 56KB modem,
a sound card, a good video card, a 101 key keyboard, a mouse, and
speakers. This computer could cost as low as $1200, but can go much
higher depending on the name brand or the extra features you have
I have reluctantly conceded that
the best thing for owners of a 486 computer to do is to either make
due with what they have, or purchase a new complete system. The days
of upgrading your PC are all but gone, what with the price of whole
systems being cheaper than individual parts. You can save some money
by using your previous video monitor, but if it's less than a 15"
screen size, you will most likely want to upgrade that as well.
One piece of hardware the computer
you use must have is a modem. The term modem comes from two words:
MOdulator and DEModulator. That is this device will modulate, or encode,
and demodulate, or decode, digital information so that it can be transferred
through your phone line to another device with a similar modem. Those
are the 'beeps, scratches, and whistles' you hear on a phone line
when a computer, or fax, is communicating.
We don't need to go too far into
this part of the technology, but it is useful to know something of
the speeds available.
You'll sometimes hear people talking
about "56KB", "28.8KB", "128KB ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network)",
and "Baud Rate." These usually refer to the speed at which the data
is being transferred through the modem to you phone lines which is
the "Baud Rate."
The speeds use to be only 300 bits
per second, and as late as 7 years ago 2400 bit per second rates were
still popular. Now we've got 56,000 bits per second on a normal home
computer, and even higher if one is connected through a Cable Modem,
or an ADSL service, where speeds of higher than 128,000 bits per second
can be attained. These service providers control the communication
lines on which you are sending your information, and therefore can
give you much faster rates of speed.
We'll be discussing the different
services available later on.
All of the information on the Internet
used to be in a text only format, that is, the information you would
get only comprised of words. No pictures, no banners, no sounds, simply
textual data or information.
I remember when I downloaded a story
in 1994 with the most unlikely title of "Start Trek vs. Star Wars
vs. BattleStar Gallactica," and it took 5 minutes for an 80 page story.
It was all text. I had to put the text into a word processor so that
I could break it up into chapters and then into paragraphs, so it
would be easier to read.
Now the information on the Internet
is coded so that it is easy to read and attractive to the viewer no
matter what computer they are using. The coding used for this is referred
to as HTML (Hyper Text Mark-up Language), which reads the code and
formats the text so you can read it. This also allows you to click
on certain elements in the document you are viewing to bring you to
other places in that document, to another document, or to another
document residing anywhere in the world.
With the advent of multi-media, the
Internet has changed for the better. Multi-media generally refers
to information that can be presented as sound and vision. It also
means interactivity in this case. It is responsible for interactive
sites such as Amazon.com, Quixtar.com, and many personal home pages
with pictures, videos, and music, which are a part of their presentation.
Most of the more recent browsers
can handle viewing multi-media, but as technology gets better and
better, it sometimes gets ahead of the browsers and the multi-media
providers must give the browsers a method to view their offerings
on the web. These are called "Plug-ins," and the multi-media files
usually have instructions for you browser to let you know where to
find the required plug-ins on the Internet.
Unfortunately the more multi-media
elements there are in a webpage, the more time it takes to download
the information you're looking for. This must be remembered when you
are selecting the information you want to present to your viewers.
Many a potential customer has moved on because it took too long to
view a page on the Internet.
The more popular browsers
- it can be downloaded for free
from http://www.netscape.com Netscape is the most popular browser
at this time. It has many features and is supported by all of
the content providers, and is considered a basis for web development.
That is, the Internet webpage developers make sure that Netscape
can view their webpages. The latest version is 4.7.
Microsoft Internet Explorer
it can be downloaded for free
from http://www.microsoft.com Internet Explorer 5.0 is Microsoft's
latest browser, and it is the second most popular browser next
to Netscape. It also has become a standard tool for webpage developers
to verify their browser friendliness.
Note: Unfortunately, Internet
Explorer and Netscape don't always agree on how things should
look, so extra effort and coding must be put in place on every
webpage so that it can be seen on both of the most popular browsers.
it can be downloaded from http://www.opera.com
for a nominal fee of $35 (US) Opera is a feature rich browser,
but because the company charges for this software, it may not
be as strong a player as the other two. One of its claims to fame
is the fact that it adheres strictly to a generic version of webpage
coding language (HTML 3.2), and so if you can see it in Opera,
then you can see it in the other two browsers. I'm not so sure
the opposite is true however.
Whatever browser you have, you
can rest assured that there will always be pages you can't view
as planned, but the good web developers will try their best to
make sure you can see their pages in all browsers.
You've no doubt heard some of the
statistics about e-commerce. You've heard that in 1996, e-commerce
was a $2.8 million dollar industry. You've heard that industry experts
expect that this industry will climb to the $1.3 Trillion dollar mark
by the year 2003. Some even think this number somewhat conservative.
Now these numbers reflect the business-to-business
industry, as opposed to the retail, sell it over the Internet, industry.
So these numbers don't reflect the advertising value of the webpages
being used to promote a certain business or service.
I personally get calls from all kinds
of people and I often simply ask them for their website for more information.
The main reason for this is that they often come up to me at the most
inappropriate time, such as supper, or during a recreational activity.
If they are serious about wanting to give me information, then they
should be prepared to offer it on my time.
You'd be surprised at the success
rate of these people who can give me their information on a website.
The other method of selling on the
Internet is e-mail. This is the preferred method of communication
for businesses. When you think of credibility of a business, you think
of being able to reach the person who is selling you their services.
That means they can send you more orders and/or refer you to their
friends and acquaintances, and let you sell your services instead
of trying to know your business enough to convince someone else that
they need to buy from you.
Links To Other Pages
In telling people about your services
you invariably come across someone who requires other services.
A friend or acquaintance may offer these services and you would
be happy to share that with your potential client. You know…networking.
Well this still works on the Internet.
It is after all a 'networking' environment.
This is how it works. You place
a piece of code (link) inviting visitors to your website an opportunity
to visit their site, and they reciprocate by placing a link on
their website inviting their visitors to pay you a visit. This
has the effect of getting visitors you may never have considered
looking at your services on your site. If they are interested
they can contact you in whichever method you have detailed on
your 'Contact Us' page.
In order for your website address
to mean anything, you have to store your you webpages somewhere.
This is where your web hosting service comes in. This service
provides space on its Internet server, and makes it available
to visitors who enter your Domain Name in their browsers.
This Internet server actually
has an IP (Internet Protocol) address similar to '125.354.235.9'
and that is how it is known on the Internet to all the other servers
and entities on the Internet looking for it. It's job is to act
as a repository for the webpages it hosts, and to 'serve them
up' when they are called for by your visitor's browser.
What I Should Have On
There are several elements that
every website should have. These may be spread out amongst several
webpages, or all contained in one. Your target market should dictate
how you communicate with them.
The basic components of a webpage
are very similar to a letter. It should contain a method to contact
you (i.e. phone, e-mail, postal address…), a greeting for your
visitors, an opening statement (reason for your website), content
(your services and or products), a summary (a call to action in
the case of a business website), and a closing statement (an invitation
for them to provide feedback and return periodically for more
information). And don't forget a date for when the last update
to your page was done. This will inform your visitors that you
update your site often (a good idea,) and that they should check
back periodically for more current content.
There are millions of websites
on the Internet. There are many that are simple (a.k.a. boring),
and many that are so complex that most people will not wait for
the information to download. Our goal is to find a happy medium.
Some new terms I'd like to introduce
include: Size - the actual disk space taken by your website; Weight
- how resource intensive the content of your webpage is; Speed
- how long it takes your webpage to load onto a visitor's browser.
A good rule of thumb for fast
loading webpages is to keep the total page size under 70KB. There
was a time when the recommendation was 30KB, then 50KB, but as
technology increases in speed, and your target market gets more
advanced equipment, you will see the standard webpage sizes grow
accordingly. You can say that if it takes more than 30 seconds
to load your page, you may want to think about revising it.
This relates to a graphic intensive
site, or one with multimedia elements loaded in it. The more complicated
the elements, that is the more you rely on your visitor's browser
to load plug-ins, the longer it will take to download your page.
Size plus Weight inversely affects
Speed. That is, the higher the size and/or the speed of your webpages,
the longer it will take your visitors to download your message.
There are many tricks and tips available on the Internet that
can show you how to speed up your webpage. Some of these include
the use of appropriate graphic types. The best for the Internet
include the JPG and PNG formats.
A good webpage should include
one to three graphic elements, and less than 500 words. Background
colours and text fonts are freebies in that they do not have to
be downloaded with your webpage; they are generated at your visitor's
browser. Repeating graphics are also quick loads because they
have already been loaded once, and therefore your visitor's browser
will simply copy what it has already loaded.
Here are some steps that will
help guide you through the process of getting a presence on the
Decide who will do what.
E-mail potential hosts, outlining
the services you need and asking them for specific pricing.
Make a list of possible domain
names. Use the WhoisPlus service at http://www.whoisplus.com,
then you can register your domain name at http://www.abilitech.net.
Decide on a virtual host who
offers the services you need.
Sign up for your site. Tell
them the domain name you want and what mailbox names you would
like to start with. Ask them how long it will take to get
you set up. Discuss any special needs you have (CGI, access
logs, mail autoresponders). Ask them to setup FTP access and
contact you once they know the location of your directories
on the server.
Sketch out a simple site diagram
and story board
Gather all the software you
may need (HTML helpers, graphics, FTP, and so on).
Write your copy in a text
Develop you HTML template,
or have this done for you.
Cut and paste your copy into
Put everything in one directory
to save time.
Create or convert your graphics.
Create any image maps you
Test your site on your own
Upload your files to your
Test your site.
Market your site off the Internet.
Market your site online. Registering
with Search engines.