Site Seeing: Top-notch locations that capitalize on things that grab the user

Greg Skinner ( is a communications consultant for Mina Research and a marketing columnist who specializes in the kids market. He also admits to having an unhealthy obsession with the World Wide Web. KidScreen asked Skinner to do some browsing on...
September 1, 1996

Greg Skinner ( is a communications consultant for Mina Research and a marketing columnist who specializes in the kids market. He also admits to having an unhealthy obsession with the World Wide Web. KidScreen asked Skinner to do some browsing on our behalf and report on some of the interesting kids sites as seen from the eye of a near-kid himself.

In today’s Web environment, kick-ass sites have figured out exactly what it is they should be providing for their surfing public and why. They, the surfing collective, already know what they want to see, and won’t waste time with a site that d’esn’t meet their needs.

In a Web environment that’s constantly evolving (technologically and socially), it’s easy to forget about the user and why he or she came to the Web site in the first place, so top-notch locations always have their target in mind, and are always working to satisfy. They’ll capitalize on the things that grab the user: on-line and off-line advertising, the way the content is composed, tech wizardry. All of these things work together to ultimately bring people back.

Take our two sites this month: Durex, which delves into the subject of s-e-x and so much more, and Los Negr’es, the straight-up, funky flavor of New York City lifestyle. Both give a taste of the unknown and do an excellent job of making the most of their offerings.

Cultivating energy and adventure today has everything to do with pushing limits and allowing the individual to experience things they haven’t experienced before. And when you’re dealing with a group, such as teens, that thinks it has seen everything that there is to see, you really have your work cut out for you.


Durex makes condoms. Whew, now that that’s out of the way, you can’t help but like any site that’s focused on education, information and . . . sex.

All inquiries here are handled directly by Dr. Dilemma, the virtual physician responding to queries about sexual health and healthy sex. The more pointed questions are conspicuously absent, but each response is knowledgeable and informative.

The initial attractiveness of the Durex site to kids (of all ages) lies, of course, in the fact that it has to do with sex. Once you surf past the perceived naughtiness of a sex-based site, you see that it’s so much more: education about using a condom, sexually transmitted diseases and general sexual health in this complex age for youth. Every kid should be directed here.

Hot Links attempts to serve by connecting you to the world’s largest players in personal health: the Center for Disease Control and health education sites. But it’s not quite as good as one would hope. While it addresses matters on a national level, more localized content is missing.

Durex d’esn’t miss the opportunity for self-promotion. Initially, it’s not an issue, but in the end it backfires. Constantly hearing about every Durex innovation quickly wears thin.

Surveys with nice, straightforward questions are mined absolutely everywhere. An excellent screensaver, with Durex images running like a TV show, is your reward for filling out a survey. Durex’s use of this site as an information receptacle is very smart. It leverages the advantages of the medium and provides a constant info stream.

But there are a few things that still need a little work at this site:

- links that take you nowhere, moving you down the page a few millimeters (the time and effort of everyone involved seems wasted).

- links need to be highlighted, instead of blending in with the regular text (highly agitating).

It was Durex’s print ads that brought us to the site originally. They’re catchy, have excellent graphics and most importantly, include the Web site address (see ‘Site seeing’ on page 15 of KidScreen’s August issue).

This is a site that keeps you both educated and entertained by striking a compromise between being provocative and offering a nice safe blend of usable info. The content alone means it deserves some respect, but there a few too many elements in here that could use some more refinement before this site will really get on down.

overall rating: tight (7 out of 10)

Los Negr’es


Los Negr’es is quite simply one of the baddest sites out there (bad, of course, meaning good). This is New York African American/Latino urban culture encapsulated and on-line. Step inside and enter the epitome of cyber funk.

The main menu is a syncopation of jazzy visuals that set the mood for your stay. Hand-in-hand, the image component chooses black-and-white pics of black heritage viewed through tiny, misty portals, steering clear of the normal staid rectangles you usually see.

The whole site is cool because it takes all of the different elements of the urban civilization-culture, fashion, art, hanging out-and focuses on those in the NYC microcosm. It works because you feel like you’re there.

The BedStuy Gallery is a virtual museum, profiling the up-and-comers cultivating their crafts in various mediums. Each bio is supported by a different visual layout, the most intriguing of which is exhibited as if in an actual gallery; you scroll left to right, walking past each piece of work. The execution is simply too cool.

Things like hip-hop (music) cybercasts, and real-time audiovisual bits (in Beatnet Beats and P’etry in Motion) mean that you had better own some crisp multimedia hardware. This site works hard to push what the medium has to offer, so state-of-the-art technology definitely helps.

Within each link, you’ll find an accompanying intro. It’s never too long and provides just the right amount of info to get you interested. The entire site pays attention to detail.

The Roots Stand is absolutely kicking. It’s set up as distinct frames in which you get info feeds from other sites. Check out: Spanish Eye (an intelligent, provocative, stimulating column focusing on Latin culture), Shade Web (continually updated listings of home-turf eating, theater and events, all in mucho detail), Bronx Beat (an eclectic on-line newspaper sporting a visually fresh format written by Columbia U Journalism students. It’s definitely dope).

Every piece, every tidbit seems to have a different layout or format, so that even in the smallest detail, the site never gets caught up in routine. Colloquialisms and slang keep things real, and lots of archiving in all links definitely keeps everyone happy.

There are two problems with this site, one minor, one major. The minor: the links to the different categories (which are few and far between) require a bionic eye to see. The major, and a cause for much concern: jacking into a specific link, the site will hang or take eons to actually hook up. Five or six attempts will usually get things started, but by then the flow of the site (and your state of mental health) has definitely been corrupted.

Los Negr’es gives you all of the pieces of the urban mix to get your fix of NYC culture, whether it be youth, urban or sub. Download and link glitches detract, and frustration is inevitable when attempts to grab all of the audiovisual stuff fail, but both are offset by all of the things in here to do and see. Definitely one of the best sites out there to date.

overall rating: rough (9 out of 10)

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