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Just the Facts

   As with most instances in life, first impressions do count. The bulk of CREs and consultants agree that the creative minds at Disney and DreamWorks should stick with animation, and let economic development Web site designers focus on information.
   "We never look for animation and motion, but rather, ease of navigation in a Web site," says Goforth. "Each Web page must show that someone put thought into it, exemplifying that the whole community is thorough and serious about what they are doing. But there's no need to go overboard."
   Propst concurs: "We always say that it's not how flashy but how accurate a site is, and that groups should spend more time and money on supplying accurate data, and not on flash and music."
   McClurg adds, "The whiz bang, fancy graphics with animation and color are not necessary. What counts is the quality and integrity of the data."
   "If it feels like I am pulling teeth to get information off of a Web site, I know that it will be harder for me to recommend this community because to me it suggests that it is not well prepared," says Rareshide.

Is There a Downside?
   While the best Web sites offer accurate, up-to-date, easy-to-find, and reliable data, can too much information be available via the Internet? It depends on how you look at it.
   Goforth says that he and his partner, Bob Leak, once undertook a site selection project for a client from start to finish using only data found on the Internet.
   "One of our regular clients was searching to put a plant in the Caribbean," explains Goforth. "We came across the best Web site we have ever found because it had every detail such as aerial photos of all available sites, location of all utilities, and capacities and infrastructure data. Just by sitting in our office we were able to verify the data via phone, and propose three sites to the client. Ultimately, the Web enabled us to save money and time for our client. Because our Web data and follow-up calls were so accurate and detailed, there was no need for me or my partner to tour the Caribbean sites which would have been a nice location to visit in the middle of winter!"
   The end result?
   "Based on that data, the client went down to the Caribbean and chose the site," says Goforth. "Today, there is a $45-million plant sitting on that land."
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