Saturday, May 28, 2005

Another example of resonance - Contagious Media Showdown

I read about this site in Alexa's blog, where Geoffrey Mack had this to say about it:
    Contagious Media Showdown is an experiment in creativity and the seeming random nature of viral content and the way it spreads across the Internet. Take for example the Hamster Dance or Peanut Butter Jelly time -- remember those? There is no formula for why those sites become popular. People just start forwarding them, they catch on, and then before you know it, they are the next big thing. And then they usually die just as quickly.

    That's the experiment with Contagious Media Showdown. Can you ask people to create sites that will become shooting stars, and, just as importantly, can a panel of experts predict which ones will hit it big.
For more information, visit the site: Contagious Media Showdown

Also look at its graph in Alexa. It moved into the top 10,000 sites this week based primarily on buzz.

Friday, May 27, 2005

A good example of resonance

Student's start-up draws attention and $13 million

From the article:
    It is not easy capturing the attention of Jim Breyer, one of Silicon Valley's leading venture capitalists. But Mark Zuckerberg, a 21-year-old Harvard student, managed to do it with a Web site that has attracted 2.8 million registered users on more than 800 campuses since it began in February 2004.

    Breyer was so taken with Zuckerberg's company,, which creates online interactive college-student networks, that his firm, Accel Partners, plans to announce a $13 million investment in the start-up today.
To go from zero to 2.8 million registered users in a year is remarkable. And rare. But it shows you that it can be done.

See also: Resonance.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Thinking about your site's design, UI and flow

If nothing else, you may want to scan through this site and see if it gives you any ideas: UI Patterns and Techniques

From the site:
    Each of these patterns (which are more general) and techniques (more specific) are intended to help you solve design problems. They're common problems, and there's no point in reinventing the wheel every time you need, say, a sortable table -- plenty of folks have already done it, and learned how to do it well. Some of that knowledge is written up here, in an easily-digestible format.

    By the way, when I say "UI," I mean Web sites, desktop applications, and everything in between (Web forms, Flash, applets, etc.). I believe that over the next few years, Web applications will become more richly interactive than they are now, and the smartest Web designers will use the desktop world's hard-won knowledge of how to design good interactive software. Likewise, desktop applications will gradually look more like Web sites, with better graphic design and more Web-style navigation. I will make no assumptions about how or when they will converge -- they may not, ultimately -- but stylistically, there is some common ground already. Thus, you will see examples from both worlds in here.
This is another site offering ideas on Web design: Basic Web Design. From the site:
    This course will introduce you to the fundamentals of website design. The course will begin with a course Overview. Next, in Section One we'll explore a practical design process that can be used to create efficient and effective websites. After that, in Section Two, we'll learn how to technically build a basic, two page, table-based site using Dreamweaver. In Section Three, we'll learn about growing and modifying a site over time to include more content, and more functionality. By the end of the course, you should be able to design and build a basic website.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Blogs and buzz

This is an in-depth and fairly scientific paper, but if you are interested in understanding the impact of blogs it is something that you should read: blogs and buzz

From the article:
    Blogs are hot. Two Pew surveys conducted in early 2005 show that 16% of U.S. adults (32 million) are blog readers. After a 58% jump in readership in 2004, this number marks a leveling off within the survey’s margin of error. But the blogger audience now commands respect: it stands at 20% of the newspaper audience and 40% of the talk radio audience. Meanwhile, 6% of the entire U.S. adult population has created a blog. That’s 11 million people, or one out of every 17 American citizens. Technorati recorded the ten millionth blog in its worldwide tracking system this month.

    There is a current sense among communications elites that it is important to have a blog. A Business Week cover warns, “Blogs Will Change Your Business.” Syndicated columnist and former California gubernatorial candidate Arianna Huffington has unveiled a blog with celebrity contributors. Issue Dynamics, which in 1993 was the first K Street firm to set up a lobbying web site, has begun offering a new service to its clients in “Blogger Relations.” Recommendation #4 in The New York Times’s internal review of how to regain reader trust reads: "Consider creating a Times blog that promotes interaction with readers."

    To understand why blogs are hot, it helps to consider the concept of buzz. Buzz is the sound heard in public when a lot of people are talking about the same thing at the same time. Some buzz forms around trivial topics, as the Yahoo! “Buzz Index” illustrates in abundance. But buzz can alter social behavior and perceptions. It can embolden or embarrass its subjects. It can affect sales, donations, and campaign coffers. It can move issues up, down, and across institutional agendas (across being issue reconceptualization or re-framing). When these changes occur, buzz can shift the balance of forces arrayed in a political struggle, and so affect its outcome.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Free photos for your web site

There are many cases where the appropriate art or photography can completely change the look and feel of a Web site that you create.

Taking your own digital photographs is one easy way to obtain them. When I started HowStuffWorks I did my own photographs and created my own simple illustrations, and that worked just fine. A picture paints a thousand words, and it does not need to be an Ansel-Adam's-quality picture to do that in many cases. You can see examples all over the web.

Another easy way to obtain photographs is to go to a site like this:

stock.xchng - the leading free stock photography site

All of the photos on this site are available free of charge. Some artists put specific restrictions on their photos, but most do not. The photographers are looking for exposure, and this is one way for them to get exposure. The terms of use are pretty straightforward and are available here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Web design ideas

This is a place to look for web design ideas: CSS Beauty | CSS Design Showcase

From the site:
    CSSBEAUTY™ is a project focused on providing its audience with a database of well designed css based websites from around the world.

    It's purpose is to showcase designers' work and to act as a small portal to the css design community.

    If you are "in need of inspiration", you have come to the right place.
Some of these sites are just gorgeous. See also: Creating a custom Web site

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Tracking the word Googlezon

If you read the post entitled An example of resonance, you know that the little movie described in that post created the word "Googlezon". Once this word was created, people started to use it and it began to show up in Google. If you now look up the word "Googlezon", Google will tell you how many pages in its index contain that word. Click here to see what I am talking about:When I look it up today, Google says (near the top right corner of the results page):
    Results 1-10 of about 17,400 for googlezon.
Last week when I checked it, there were about 16,000 results, so this word is currently growing in the Google index. More and more people are talking about it, so its presence in Google expands.

One reason for creating a new, unique word to describe your website is that it makes tracking the growth of your web site easier in Google. Googlezon had never been used before, so it is easy to see its expansion in Google.

Over the next several weeks, check the word "Googlezon" periodically and see how it grows or shrinks in the Google index. You might also try other words like "Star Wars" (in quotes) (the reading today is 31,300,000), "Britney Spears" (in quotes) (current reading is 4,960,000), your own name, etc. -- try any word or phrase that you are interested in really. Use a spreadsheet or piece of paper to track the changes week-to-week. It is a very good way to see how ideas are rising and falling in the public consciousness.

Explaining your site

One problem that many sites have, especially at their inception, is that visitors do not know how the site works or what they are supposed to do. Today's example shows you an excellent way to solve this problem:When you open the site, you see a nice, big, front-and-center graphic that explains how the site works very simply and cleanly. It takes about 10 or 15 seconds for the first-time visitor to understand what the site is all about.

If you are thinking about a new web site idea, and if you believe that visitors might not "get it" when they first arrive, you should borrow this graphical approach and use it on your site.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Blogging well

Blogging, as in Slogging

From the article:
    Serious bloggers, I realized, aggressively report a pet issue, updating their sites throughout the day. They scavenge the Internet for every shard of information on a hot topic, like John R. Bolton's chances of becoming ambassador to the United Nations or Tom DeLay's ethical troubles.
There are several interesting insights like these in the article.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Lesson #9 - Creating a custom web site

If you have looked through Lesson #8 and decided that it is time to create a custom web site, then there are two things that you are going to need at the very minimum to get started:
  • A domain name for your site.

  • A template of some sort for your site
We will talk about domain names in more depth in the weeks to come, but in general you should try to think of a word or phrase that describes your business. Obviously, if the name of your business is available as a domain name, it is a good candidate. But many common domain names have already been taken by someone else. Go to this page and use the domain name finder in the bottom right hand corner of the page to see if the domain name you want to use is available or not.

The second thing you need is some sort of site template, or "look", for your web site. You have three options here:
  • Most places like EZ-WEB-HOSTING.COM offer 100 or more site templates that you can use to create your site's initial look.

  • You can hire a web site designer to create the look. To find a web site designer you can look in the Yellow Pages, type "web site designers" into Google or go to a freelancer site like Elance.

  • You can create the site yourself. If you go this route, you will need to learn about HTML and some other related tools. If you have never done it before, I would recommend finding a book or reading tutorials on the web (use Google to find them - there are hundreds) to get started.
Does the "look" of your site matter? Yes and no. If you are creating a content web site, we can all take some solace in It is an incredibly popular web site but it looks like crap. I would argue that DrudgeReport, like, uses an extremely simple look. That helps a lot. As you can see, you can get away with very simple, very plain web site designs and they will not necessarily hurt your site's success.

On the other hand, if you are creating a business brochure site, I would say that a bad design can hurt you. Customers will come to your web site, and if it looks shoddy they will think less highly of your business or your content idea. If you are going to do it yourself, or if you are going to have "your spouse's 16-year-old nephew" do your web site, the one thing that I would ask you to understand is that a bad web site design can hurt you to some extent.

Let me demonstrate this to you. I sat here and I tried to think, "what is the most generic, mundane sort of business web site that I can think of???" What I came up with are dentists. In your community there are dozens of dentists, and they all have web sites. They are all advertising approximately the same services. So I went out and looked at a bunch of dental web sites and I divided them into two groups.

Now I am not saying that either of these groups of web sites are "better" or "worse" than the other. However, I think you will find yourself feeling differently about the two groups of web sites. Compare the first batch to second batch. Imagine what a new patient will feel like arriving at these different web sites:

Group 1:Group 2:The appearance of a web site does make a difference to visitors and/or customers. The web site's design reflects in some way on your professionalism and attention to detail. Keep that in mind as you are creating your own web site.

If you have no idea what sort of look to create for your site, I would go into Google and try to find similar and/or related sites. Find one with a look that you like and use it for inspiration in creating your own site.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Lesson #8 - To blog, or not to blog?

In Lesson #6 we discussed the process of picking an idea. There simply comes a time in your life when you decide to create a Web site, so you pick an idea and start down the road.

Once you have picked your idea, the next question you face is, "what sort of structure should I use to contain my site?" That depends on the type of site that you are creating. Look back at The different types of Web sites. The big categories are:
  • Content sites
  • Blogs
  • Brochure sites (primarily to advertise a business or organization)
  • Stores (retail sites)
  • Hyperblogs
  • Forum sites
  • Database sites
Most people, when they are thinking about their first web sites, are going to be thinking about the first four. Either you want to publish some sort of content, or you want to sell something.

Let's get the retail sites out of the way quickly. If you want to set up an online store, and if you have never done it before, I would recommend that you go to a place like Yahoo Small Business and use their toolset to create an online store quickly and easily. You will pay $50 to $100 per month for their tools, and it makes your life easy. You can focus more on selling and less on "technology".

If you have read lesson #6 and you know that you want to create a pretty straightforward blog, then I would go to a place like Blogger or LiveJournal and create a blog using their free tools. It only takes five minutes to get everything set up, and then you simply start writing. It is quick, painless, free and easy - what more could you ask for?

That leaves us with content. Let's say that you know you would like to create a content Web site, or a business brochure site, but the free/easy Blog structure does not work? For example, let's say that you want to start your own site like HowStuffWorks, or you are a dentist and you want to publish a brochure site to advertise your dental practice?

In that case, what you need to do is create a "normal web site". You need to sign up with a company that hosts web sites, create a URL for your site and start building your site. This is not quite as easy as creating a blog -- it might take you two to four hours instead of five minutes to get things set up. However, you have a lot more freedom and control with this approach. You can build almost anything you can imagine. You can add forums, create multiple email accounts, post images, let visitors look at video, etc. It does take a little more work to get going, but you can do a lot more down the road.

Let me give you two examples to make the difference more obvious:
  1. What is WebKEW? It is a "content web site". What I am doing here is publishing an online book, really. I have started WebKEW using a blog in order to demonstrate something -- If you do not want to go through the steps of creating a custom web site right now, you can actually do your publishing in a blog structure. I have created a Table of Contents page for WebKEW to make it a little easier for readers to get oriented, but otherwise I am using a blog framework to publish content. Admittedly this structure has its limitations, but you can see that it is possible.

  2. Now, let me show you another online book that has been published as a simple, custom web site: This custom web site has its own URL and logo, it has a custom home page, it has a standard template for article pages and so on. If you are creating a brochure for your business, or if you are publishing non-blog content, this is most likely the road you will want to travel.
To set up a custom web site like this, you need to contact a web hosting company. There are a million places that offer Web hosting. I happen to use a place called This is where is hosted, for example. When it comes time to turn WebKEW into a "real web site", is where I will host it.

If you are getting ready to create a "real web site" for your content, or if you need to create a business brochure site, you can click here and look around. Whether you go with ez-web-hosting or somewhere else, the features and the price will be nearly identical -- this is a commodity business with thousands of companies providing approximately the same packages.

In Lesson #9 we will look at the steps that you need to take to get your "real web site" going once you sign up.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Lesson #7 - How to handle email

If you start a web site, and if you publicize an email address somewhere on your web site, and if your web site becomes at all popular, then one thing is for sure -- you will get email. Lots and lots of email in some cases.

In my case, one of the things that forced HowStuffWorks to become a business was the amount of email I was receiving. There simply was no way for one person to process all the email that was coming in on a daily basis.

WebKEW is only a few weeks old at this point, and I have not published an email address on WebKEW, but the email has started coming in. Here is an example of the kind of email WebKEW is generating:
    I've been a follower of your Robotic Nation series since it began and am an avid reader of your blogs. Your WebKew postings have finally led me to do something which I've been thinking about for the last couple of years, which is to start my own blogs.

    I have yet to find a site which collects all the news and stories I'm interested in, so I've decided to start my own. Since I read numerous other blogs and news sites to collect the information, it's but a simple step to edit and post it to my site.

    I just wanted to write and thank you for efforts to help budding web publishers like myself, and to let you know about the blogs, in case you might be interested.

    The blogs are:
I wrote back and asked Mike for permission to publish his note. From his perspective, it is helpful for me to publish it because it boosts his Google ranking. We will be discussing the Google footprint of a site in detail in the weeks to come.

I can tell you that not all email that you receive will be this nice. Some of your incoming email will come in the form of "flames." People read what you write, do not like it for some reason, and want to make sure you know it. One option you always have with a flame is the delete key. In some cases, the flamer is sending the flame specifically to get a rise out of you (and will publish your response if you send one, even though that is probably illegal under copyright law), and the delete key is a good choice. Or, writing back to a flamer with a very simple "thank you for taking the time to write" email may be appropriate. Blogs will change your business offers several examples of the kind of things that can happen with email.

One other piece of advice that I would offer is this: Do not use HTML's "mailto" tag on a web page, and do not put a text version of your email address in a web page. That is, never embed something like this in your web pages:
    <a href="">Contact me</a>
If you use the mailto tag or place a text version of your address on your site, then spambots will spider your site, pick up your email address and start sending you a cascade of spam. One way to avoid this problem is to use a gif image rather than text, like this:
Do not make the image clickable and do not surround it with a mailto tag. Simply let people type in your email address if they want to send you email. This approach is not perfect, but it is a simple way of avoiding a lot of spam.

Another option is to use forms to handle incoming messages. The White House now uses a (pretty elaborate) form system. HowStuffWorks uses a much simpler approach, but it is the same idea. In the age of spam, a form system cuts down on most of the spam you will receive.

By giving visitors "other means" to express their opinions besides email -- e.g., comments and forums -- you can cut down on the amount of email that you receive. If you would like to receive more email, do not offer comments or forums.

Overall, I like it when people send email, and I think incoming email is a great thing -- it gives people a way to critique your site, and it lets them offer new ideas, links and so on. Yes, a few flames do come in too, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Making Money with Blogs

This article demonstrates that it is possible to make money with blogs:The article talks about Nick Denton, who is the creator of Gawker Media. The article points out that:Check Alexa for details on traffic. See Lesson #3 for details on what it means in terms of money. Overall, it is a very interesting article.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

An example of resonance - EPIC

In Lesson #4 I talked about resonance. Here is a great example of resonance at work:The article talks about a flash movie created by journalists Matt Thompson (of The Fresno Bee) and Robin Sloan (of Current). The movie happens to be resonating with journalists, and journalists are spreading the word through articles. One of these articles appeared in my newspaper today, which is how I heard about the movie.

Having read the article, I watched the movie. I think the movie is fascinating, so now I am going to tell you about it. This is how resonance works. You can see the movie at this web site: You may want to watch how this web site's rank changes in Alexa over the next month or so.

Another popular flash site of a completely different nature is HomeStarRunner. Look at it in Alexa as well. It became this popular almost completely through word of mouth resonance.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Lesson #6 - Picking an idea

At some point in the WebKEW process, you are going to arrive at the place where it is time to pick an idea and create a web site. In general, one of two things is going to happen when this time comes:
  • You will be struck by the idea for a new web site that is so compelling that you MUST create it.

  • Over a period of time you will accumulate a set of ideas in a blog, on a sheet of paper, in a Word document or whatever. From those ideas you will choose one and implement it.
The first case is easy. Inspiration strikes, and it gives you the energy to get started immediately. The second case is a slower burn. You will gather ideas from the time you spend looking at Alexa, from your normal Web surfing, from seeing needs that you have or that other people around you seem to have, and so on.

Let's say that you have created this sort of list, and you feel like it is time to get started. You have to pick one of the ideas out of the list, so how do you choose? I would look at several factors to make this choice:
  • Looking at the ideas in your list, which one seems to have the best chance of resonating? This, of course, is a guess on your part -- it is nearly impossible to predict resonance ahead of time. So think about it and take a guess.

  • Looking at the ideas on your list, which one seems the most exciting to you? It is going to take energy to create a web site -- picking the idea that excites you the most is a way of providing the most energy possible. There are many cases where I start writing something not because I think it will be a home run, or because I think there is incredible demand, but because, at that moment, it is what I want to write about. The blog I call SadTech is a good example of that. It does not matter to me if anyone reads it or not -- it is something that interests me, and I want to write down some of my ideas. This is also how HowStuffWorks got started.

  • Looking at the ideas in your list, which ones are easier to execute? If one of them is going to take 2,000 hours to execute and the other is going to take 20, and if they are about equal on other factors, I would probably choose the 20 hour project. You can always do the 2,000 hour one next month.
Having chosen one of the ideas, I would then plan to invest 100 to 200 hours in creating and building out the site. In those 100 to 200 hours you will get the site set up, create the template for the pages and add some number of articles or features to the site. In 100 to 200 hours you will be able to create a large enough site to see: a) if you like the idea as much now as you did when you started, and b) if anyone else cares -- if the idea has any resonance or not. You will be able to find that out by looking at the site's statistics.

For example, I started HowStuffWorks with an article about car engines. Then I added another article, and another. Figure that I spent about 6 hours creating a typical article. Somewhere around 15 articles (about 100 hours into it) the site started to resonate. I would look at the stats, and I could see the number of readers rising.

What if you have no ideas at all -- you have no clue where you should start. In that case, I would either start a blog or wait patiently for inspiration to strike.

To start a blog I would go to or someplace similar, set up a free blog, and I would try adding an entry to it every day. Why? I would do that to get in the habit. Either give the blog a theme based on one of your hobbies or interests (My Robot blog is a good example of that -- I add entries based on robots, which is something that interests me), or let it be a stream-of-consciousness thing ( is an excellent example, and one that became very popular in the community of knitters).

If even that is not working for you, then try this. Set up the blog and, as you are surfing, add the things you see that interest you. News items, other sites, whatever -- anything that is interesting, just add a line or two and a link to your blog. If nothing else, that list will have some benefit to you two months down the line when you want to get back to one of those interesting sites.

The key factor is getting started. The only way to learn about creating web sites is to create web sites. Learn by doing.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Lesson #5 - Collecting ideas

As you are browsing the web, you will see web sites that appeal to you. Maybe you like the theme of the site, or the site has a feature you like, or you find a page that sparks an idea. It can be very helpful for you to save these ideas in a list so you can refer back to them.

There is a very easy way to create the list, if you don't mind it being public:
  • Get the Google tool bar

  • Start a blog on

  • Every time you visit a web site that interests you, use the Blogger button on the toolbar to add the site quickly to your blog. The toolbar makes it incredibly easy to add an entry (it takes about 5 seconds).
If you don't want people looking at your idea blog, set the options in the template so that the blog does not broadcast its presence. Set your profile so the blog is not visible there either. Your idea blog will still be an open entity on the Internet, so it is possible that people can find it -- it certainly is not a place to keep intimate secrets. But the number of people seeing it will be very small. As a quick-and-dirty way to collect ideas, it can't be beat.

If you don't want anyone seeing your ideas, do the same kind of thing using a document stored on your hard disk. Simply add the URL to the document every time you find a cool site.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Finding ideas, finding time

A little mid-week inspiration:In the web space, Alexa is a great source of ideas. That is why Alexa is Lesson 1 and Lesson 1a.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Lesson #4 - Where do visitors come from? Resonance.

As we discussed in Lesson #3, it is possible to make money with web sites these days. The amount of money you can make depends on the number of visitors who come to your site.

Obviously your question then becomes, "How do I attract visitors to my web site?"

If you think about it, you realize that there are a number of ways that visitors can find their way to you:
  • They can search for your site in Google and other search engines. (The success of this technique has a lot to do with the "Google footprint" of your site -- something we will be talking about extensively in the weeks to come.)

  • They can get to your site through a link on someone else's site.

  • They can get to your site because of an ad you have placed either online or offline.

  • They can return to your site every day because you are publishing daily content. This technique represents a majority of the traffic on places like,, and

  • And, perhaps most importantly, there is something called resonance, also known as buzz and word-of-mouth. Resonance can be especially important when you are starting out.
We will talk about all of these techniques in the weeks to come, but today let's focus on resonance.

Resonance is very simple -- it is the tendency of people who visit your site to tell their friends about your site. If you have a highly resonant site, then people who visit your site will have a high tendency to talk about your site. They will tell everyone they know. If your site has low resonance, then they won't. It is as simple as that.

Resonance is something that has been at work in our society for centuries. Resonance is what controls the success or failure of many new books, movies, magazines, restaurants, etc. For example, right now I am reading a book called Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. I heard about it from a friend of mine. I have told several of my friends. This book is highly resonant, in other words. So, when I look at it today on Amazon, Blink is ranked #7 out of all the books that Amazon is selling. This is the nature of resonance.

It works the same way on the Web, and resonance is an especially powerful force when it comes to Web sites. Here is how it works:
  • You create your web site.

  • On any given day, your web site is going to get a certain amount of traffic -- say 10 or 20 people will spontaneously arrive at your site. I call this the "osmotic pressure of the web" -- there are so many people moving around in so many random ways on the web that a few of them will make their way to your site each day. You could create a Completely random page on the web, and every day it will get a few visitors because of this osmotic pressure.

  • Once those visitors arrive at your web site, they will experience your creation. And they will have some sort of reaction to it.

  • If it is a strong positive reaction, then they will tell their friends about your site, and tomorrow you will have a little more traffic than you had today. That process will cause your traffic to grow over time, and you will find yourself to be the proud owner of a successful web site.
This is exactly what happened with HowStuffWorks. After I had written and posted about a dozen articles, the traffic started to grow, and it has been growing ever since. Some number of visitors would tell their friends about HowStuffWorks, and they would tell their friends, and so on. Soon HowStuffWorks had a great deal of traffic.

What is the most resonant web site ever created in the history of the Web? I believe that it was Napster. Napster began as the work of one teenager named Shawn Fanning. He put it out on the web, told some of his friends about it, and what occurred next can only be called "extreme resonance". It is hard to get exact numbers, but the gist of the story is that Napster went from zero to tens of millions of visitors per month in less than a year. And it is easy to understand why. Anyone who visited Napster immediately realized that it was a place to get an unlimited amount of free music. As soon as anyone figured that out, they immediately told 20 of their friends about it. Napster was a highly resonant idea.

Resonance can happen immediately, or resonance can take a period of time to materialize. As I mentioned above, HowStuffWorks did not start to resonate in a noticeable way until it had a dozen or so articles. Then it was quite apparent that the traffic was steadily growing. The Seinfeld Show was a late resonator. It was not until its fourth season that it took off to become a major blockbuster. Most ideas, however, tend to show their resonance fairly early.

The Web accelerates the resonance process because there are so many different ways on the web to talk about a cool Web site. If you find a cool web site, you can send email to your friends about the site. You can talk about the site in a chat room. You can post something about the site in a forum. You can mention the site in your blog. Because it is a Web site that you are talking about, people can immediately go and check it out. It is not like a book (where you have to buy it and wait for it to arrive) or a restaurant (where you have to get in your car and drive). With a web site, the time between your saying something about it and your friends reacting is often measured in seconds. So resonance can happen a lot faster.

Now here is the funny thing about resonance. It is nearly impossible to predict what will resonate and what will not. You won't know anything about the resonance or non-resonance of your web site until you put something up and see how people react to it. Not a thing. Look at all the products, movies, books, etc. that fail to resonate even though they have millions of dollars in backing. Look at the thousands of web sites that started up prior to 2000. They had billions of venture capital dollars invested in them. But look at how many of them failed. They failed because they did not resonate.

This "failure to resonate" is something you should be aware of. Most ideas tend not to resonate. This is why nine out of ten small businesses fail. This is why thousands of garage bands start every year, but only a few of them reach national prominence. This is why so many new restaurants go out of business in their first year or two. Resonance is a fairly rare property. The great thing about the Web is that you can try out new web ideas fairly quickly and inexpensively until you find something that resonates. Then, once you find a resonant property, you can grow it into something big.

In the weeks and months to come, we will be spending a great deal of time returning to this idea of resonance. It is a core concept that determines the success of your Web site, and something that is worth studying in detail. If you have questions about resonance, please add them to the comments.

The internet is revolutionizing again

Here is a very interesting article on "rethinking" that is occuring in the internet community right now:From the article: "If you're not yet amazed, inspired, and a little anxious, you might want to consider it. Then get a good night's sleep and perhaps take a rejuvenating vacation. We're going to look back at Spring 2005 as a milestone. Watch closely, ladies and gentlemen. Things are about to change in a very big way."

What that means for you, as a person who is thinking about creating web sites, is opportunity. Lots of opportunity as things change and reconfigure. Look at the examples she cites, as well as visual sites like 10 x 10, Name Voyager, Newsmap, GoogleBrowser, Zipdecode and AirtightInteractive's photo viewer (see also this). These sites will open your mind. There is a lot of room for creativity.

Know of other creative web sites? Share them in the comments.