Me, basically being an Internet prophet

This appeared in a 2001-era edition of the Amarillo Business Journal. It showcases my ability to make fun of others and goad them into action.

Does your Web site serve a purpose? Send it in

Somewhere in the deep dusty recesses of your parents’ attic sit broken dreams, dashed hopes, and unfulfilled potential.

Woodburning sets unopened. Chemistry sets long neglected. A banjo you swore you’d master.

Just think of the well-rounded adult you’d be today if you could turn a plain piece of wood into an ornate welcome sign and create awe-inspiring pyrotechnic displays with potassium and water, all the while strumming “This Land is Your Land”.

You’d certainly be more interesting at parties.

As adults, though, we haven’t quite outgrown the “gotta have one” way of thinking. Take Web sites for example.

Somewhere around 1997 or 1998, you probably decided you had to have a Web site. The hair and nail place next door had one, your nemesis across town had one, and your bowling league definitely had one.

So you were hooked.

“I swear I’ll use it, Mom. No, I won’t forget about it. Mom, I gotta have one!”

At first, it was shiny and new and it was your life. You played with it all day, you smuggled it to the dinner table, you slept with it. The future looked bright and clear.

With time, however, it lost the newness that made it so all-consuming. Eventually, you outgrew all interest, leaving what was once the center of your existence outside in the rain to rust and fade.

Yes, I realize you can’t leave a Web site outside. My metaphors are getting mixed, so I’ll get to the point.

Most local business Web sites are worthless. Useless. Utterly without merit. Devoid of purpose. Complete wastes of precious server space.

Do a quick Web search and try to find a local Web site that offers more usefulness than a simple phone book listing would.

In my experience, such sites are rare.

Most local sites I’ve seen loosely follow a pattern: name, address, phone number, an e-mail link, a big picture of the building’s facade, and maybe a blinking slogan along the lines of “If you’ve tried the rest, come try the best.”

All sprinkled liberally with ubiquitous animated clip art and slapped over a background pattern that renders the text illegible.

But aesthetics is not today’s topic. I’m talking about usefulness and purpose.

From what I’ve seen, I would guess that precious few local Web sites accomplish anything significant and measurable, whether it’s branding or direct response.

But surely my pessimism is unfounded.

Certainly there must be Web sites out there that exemplify the successful implementation of a Web strategy by a local business.

Right? You’re out there somewhere, aren’t you?

Well, let’s make a deal. If you buck the trend, if you do not conform, if you stand out from the herd in the realm of local Web sites, I want to hear from you.

I want success stories from Amarillo area businesses which have prospered on the Web, whether it’s on a local scale or global. Business to consumer or business to business.

It’s no secret that most outsiders don’t associate the terms “Amarillo” and “future-oriented, paradigm-busting big thinkers.”

But maybe we can prove that wrong. E-mail your stories of Web success to me, or send them to me in care of the Globe-News. In a future column, I’ll compile the responses and give you and your site a chance to shine.

And when it’s all done, I’ll use an advanced technique involving my cat to choose a random submission. The winner will receive a month of advertising on amarillonet.com.

Is Amarillo on the edge, or is it still the cattle town most folks assume it is?

I’m hoping we’ll all be surprised by the answer.

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