This question & answer formatted information explains, in easily understandable terms, the basic mechanics of the Internet and World Wide Web advertising. It is intended to help people with no current knowledge of the Internet gain a clear enough understanding to feel comfortable about pursuing web advertising possibilities further.
What is the Internet?
In simplest terms, the Internet is a wire that connects more than 4 million computers around the world. A common language or protocol is used by all the computers to talk to one another across the wire. It's main function is to provide a pathway over which information can be distributed and exchanged both quickly and at minimal cost.
Who owns the Internet?
No one owns the Internet. Instead, lots of companies, organizations, and schools each own a small piece. Typically, each piece consists of one or more computers at a particular site and a wire that connects up with the "guy next door". So, simply put, to "get on the net" all you need is a computer, some software that "speaks the language", and a wire that connects your computer to any point on the existing Internet wire.
What information can I find via the Internet?
Almost anything imaginable. Text, pictures, email, audio, video, programs, data, encyclopedias, novels, research papers... And, more and more is coming everyday!
How is the information organized and accessed?
Frankly, it's not really organized per se. Small portions are stored on computers all around the world. Each computer site determines what kind of information it wants to store. That information is then given special "public access" status so that anyone can look at it. Various access tools have been around for years, but you needed to be very computer literate to use them. Today, a recent development called the World Wide Web is making great strides towards both organization and ease of use for the rest of us.
How does the World Wide Web work?
The World Wide Web's user-friendly graphical interface, called a web browser, uses web pages and hyperlinks to present information to the viewer. Web pages are typically a combination of text and graphics. Hyperlinks are highlighted text and image components that, when selected, display other web pages. The interface is very similar to the help screens that are now so common within Windows and Macintosh software. When you move the arrow cursor over a highlighted area, the arrow turns into a hand. Press the mouse button and the hand leads you to a separate page of information about the highlighted subject.
How do I use the Web to locate information on a specific subject?
There is no single huge worldwide index or table of contents. Even if there was, things change so fast it would be continually out of date! To make finding information easier, new search tools are being created all the time. Currently, the most powerful search tools are called robots. Basically, robots run around the world looking at web pages and build huge reference tables. For information on a certain subject, you do a search for keywords related to that subject. You are presented with a list of all the documents in the world that contain those keywords along with an excerpt from each. You can then decide which documents to retrieve.
Sounds good so far, how do I "get on" and what will it cost me?
There are two main reasons for "getting on" the net. You either want to access information or you want to provide information. Let's handle each case separately.
Do I need Internet access to advertise on the Web?
No! In fact, you don't even need to own a computer! This falls under our second case, called providing information.
What do I need to provide web information?
The information you wish to present needs to be formatted as web pages. These pages must then be placed on a web server. Web servers are special computers that store and transmit your information. They allow public access 24 hours a day. This allows anyone to look at your web pages anytime.
How much does it cost to create web pages?
The cost is minimal compared to traditional advertising, usually about $50 per page. See the Dewpoint Price Guide for more specifics.
How much does it cost to have web pages on a web server?
Unless you have a lot of graphics or a huge site with high volume traffic, you should never have to pay more than about $20 per month.
How will people know my information is out there?
Web pages are created with special category information and then announced to the world. This involves knowing about all the most popular indexes/searchers/robots and how to inform them about your pages. Once these tools know about you, then everyone with a web browser anywhere in the world can find your information.
Can I make changes to my pages after announcing?
Yes, this is the beauty of Web advertising! Nothing is fixed like in traditional advertising. Web pages are flexible and dynamic. Updated pages are instantly available to the whole world.
How will my customers place orders?
There are many options from which to choose. For example, your pages can simply inform the customer to call your 800 number. Alternatively, you can present a form that the customer fills in on the screen. When they press the button to submit their form, the web server forwards the order to you via email or fax. Online credit card verification is even available!
What's my next step?
Contact Dewpoint by E-mail at email@example.com or through the World Wide Web at http://www.dancingpeace.com/.
Copyright ©1997 Dewpoint Web Services. This document can be freely distributed provided this copyright notice remains.
January 20, 2001