The internet. I can live without it. I can certainly live with it, but it is not indispensable. Not yet.
This is frightening. I realise that it is a relatively new part of our routine and that service offerings are maturing. We in the internet business are building greater competencies, reaching further into people's lives every day, and the net's potential as a delivery mechanism for entertainment, education, knowledge sharing, social communication and business development is fantastic. But as a user, on the whole, I am disappointed.
Don't get me wrong. There are some wonderful benefits that it offers me - email, timetables, purchasing offers and convenience. But nothing that I couldn't live without. I can't live without my mobile phone, my phone directory, my TV, my magazine subscriptions, my music collection, public transport, choice, design, art, love of motorbikes and one of those great bottle openers that looks like a fish.
These interests and needs make me a target for a majority of brands, and its true that most of my needs could potentially be satisfied through the web. But it is equally true that until the industry starts focusing on the benefits it offers to the customer, it is never going to win over users like me.
The creators, producers and designers of web services, products or features have to stop thinking about the web sites they put together and much more about the products they offer.
Content is king online and in the same way that a bottle opener must open bottles (useful), be easy to use (usable), look cool (emotional) and please the eye (sellable), a web-based product has to be so much more than glorious digital artwork or an unemotional and difficult-to-use software application.
The application and the artwork cannot be separated and I do not believe that one can be considered without the other. Look and feel, form and function, call it what you will, but without an idea that performs and behaves online in a fashion that benefits the user, you can forget about what a web site looks like.
If I want art, I will take myself to a gallery; if I want confusion, maybe I'll use public transport; if I want both, I will often go online.
Everybody says it, but I really mean it. This is a great user experience that does not stop when you shut down your machine. The scene: Sunday 4pm (bored), go to site (to see what all the fuss is about), find a CD, view its playlist, decide to buy it (save money), enter details (easy) - and the CD turns up the next day at 11am. The Wish List, that can be accessed by others for gift ideas, is also cool.
Web address: www.amazon.co.uk
There is a lot of scepticism today about the services that Railtrack delivers to the UK public. But this online timetable is an example of a product that satisfies a need without the over-use of graphic devices or the over-complication of data entry. It is quick and accurate. Your time of travel is can be entered as either 'today' or 'tomorrow', and the option to enter a future date is also available.
Web address: www.railtrack.co.uk
Nike embraced the power of the internet as a tool to increase its reach and enable effective integration of communication channels over 12 months ago with its Chainsaw campaign. This began live on the TV before sending users to the site to complete the ad in any of a number of ways. It was a simple way of building a credible stream of visitors to the site, and an innovative and original use of different formats.
Web address: www.nike.com
Developer: Red Sky Interactive
It's direct. It's simple. It's the business when it come to searching the web. There is no need to wade through advertising or extra (and often irrelevant) features such as auctions, mail and what's new. This search engine does not answer your query with further questions. It's fast - and I mean fast - and always seems to come up with the goods. It's a no-nonsense service for those that need information.
Web address: www.google.com