From Loren Nelson, NelsonEcom
Finding and Building Solutions for Your Internet Goals
Visual Design, Web Sites, Podcasts, Multimedia, & Usability Engineering

April 19, 2008 – Vol. XII, No. 13


NetBits is the weekly newsletter keeping your informed of various chatter and delicious tidbits of potential relevance.


In This Issue:

Item One: Normalized Hurricane Damage in the United States
Item Two: There’s Gold In That Site
Item Three: Fitness Tip – Sit-Ups Can Give You an Abdominal Pouch!
Item Four: Word of the Week
Item Five: Better Content
Do you know…

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1. Normalized Hurricane Damage in the United States

After more than two decades of relatively little Atlantic hurricane activity, the past decade saw heightened hurricane activity and more than $150 billion in damage in 2004 and 2005. This paper normalizes mainland U.S. hurricane damage from 1900–2005 to 2005 values using two methodologies. A normalization provides an estimate of the damage that would occur if storms from the past made landfall under another year’s societal conditions…

…The 1970s and 1980s were notable because of the extremely low amounts of damage compared to other decades. The decade 1996–2005 has the second most damage among the past 11 decades, with only the decade 1926–1935 surpassing its costs. Over the 106 years of record, the average annual normalized damage in the continental United States is about $10 billion under both methods.

The most damaging single storm is the 1926 Great Miami storm, with $140–157 billion of normalized damage: the most damaging years are 1926 and 2005. Of the total damage, about 85% is accounted for by the intense hurricanes Saffir-Simpson Categories 3, 4, and 5, yet these have comprised only 24% of the U.S. landfalling tropical cyclones. Read more at…

2. There’s Gold In That Site

When you visit a Web site, do you ever wish that you could find a particular piece of information on that site? Or, are you ever not able to find a specific product or service that the site probably sells?

In such moments, you realize the "gold" that this site is missing. But as a potential customer, you know about it – don’t you?

Okay, now put the shoe on the other foot so you’re now the SEO or Web site owner.

  • What do your customers wish they could find on your Web site?
  • What bits of information are they looking for?
  • What products or services do you sell that are difficult to find?

Talk to your customers! Find out from them what they’re looking for! Make sure you have many ways to navigate your site. Group products together in several different ways. But YOU don’t know how your customers

SECRET: Spend the time to pick up the phone and call a few of your best customers. You won’t be sorry you did.

3. Sit-Ups Can Give You an Abdominal Pouch!

If you want a lean, flat belly, the absolute worst thing you can do is force yourself to do sit-ups and crunches. Reason: Although sit-ups and crunches strengthen the rectus abdominus muscle, they also lengthen the transverse abdominal’s (girdle) muscles, causing your lower abdominal’s to pouch. But that’s not all. Crunches and sit-ups can push your head out of alignment and cause tension in your shoulders. They can also damage your spine. Try the Abdominal Reverse Curl Exercise or The Bridge Exercise instead.

4. Word of the Week

quixotic • \kwik-SAH-tik\ • adjective

*1 : foolishly impractical especially in the pursuit of ideals; especially : marked by rash lofty romantic ideas or extravagantly chivalrous action

2 : capricious, unpredictable

Example Sentence:
Marta has been desperately trying to convince her friends to give up their cars and computers and return to nature on Earth Day, but it has been a quixotic crusade.
Did you know?
If you guessed that "quixotic" has something to do with Don Quixote, you’re absolutely right. The hero of the 17th-century Spanish novel El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha (by Miguel de Cervantes) didn’t change the world by tilting at windmills, but he did leave a linguistic legacy in English. The adjective "quixotic" is based on his name and has been used to describe unrealistic idealists since at least the early 18th century. The novel has given English other words as well. "Dulcinea," the name of Quixote’s beloved, has come to mean "mistress" or "sweetheart," and "rosinante," which is sometimes used to refer to an old, broken-down horse, comes from the name of the hero’s less-than-gallant steed.

5. Better Content

Content rules. It did ten years ago, and it does today. People don’t use things they don’t understand. Writing for the Web is still undervalued, and most sites spend too few resources refining the information they offer to users.

The same goes for photos: On countless sites, product images are too small, fuzzy, or murky, or they’re simply shot from a bad angle, making the product hard to see. These same sites lavish pixels on big glamour illustrations that our eyetracking studies show attract no fixations. Go figure.

Generally, all you need are plainspoken words and clean photos. Nonetheless, these two design elements get almost no coverage in the trade press. Every month, there seems to be a new article in a leading publication about 3D spinning views, even though 3D is nearly useless in most cases. But you never see an article about how to write better headlines or take a clearer product photo.

6. Do You Know…
On this day:

  • Actress Grace Kelly Marries Rainier III of Monaco (1956)
    Grace Kelly was an Oscar-winning American actress who appeared in many films, including Dial M for Murder and Rear Window. In 1956, she married Prince Rainier III of Monaco and became Her Serene Highness Princess Grace, an event that marked her retirement from acting. The couple had three children, one of whom, Albert II of Monaco, is the principality’s reigning Sovereign Prince. Kelly died in a car accident in 1982.