Week of August 14, 2000
  Editor's Choice Web Pick
   of the Week

Tennessee's Resource Valley: Site Scores High
in Content and Appearance, Low on BS Index

Developing a solid Web site has never been an easy proposition. Oh, sure, simply slapping up a site is not a problem. The problem is quality - more specifically, the lack of it.

That's why we like the new design and functionality on the Web site for Tennessee's Resource Valley (TRV as www.trv.org), a regional economic development organization that represents 15 counties in the Knoxville-Oak Ridge-Smoky Mountains region of the Volunteer State.

Unlike the huge majority of economic development sites, this one looks well thought out and technologically savvy. It scores solid points in terms of content and appearance. Just as importantly, it scores inordinately low on the BS Index -- where high rankings signal attention-span death among knowledgeable site seekers.

Pull-Down Menus with Purpose

Developed in conjunction with local area firms The Tombras Group (www.tombras.com) and MediaPulse (www.mediapulse.com), the TRV site pops onscreen with a very fetchingly designed homepage that features some inviting area photos (nice color usage, too). The homepage's attractiveness is a key element, since all this site's online roads lead from here.

Those online roads are embodied in the seven categories wisely positioned near the top of the page: "services," "business advantages," "workforce," "buildings and sites," "community data and maps," "regional links" and "lifestyle."

A click on any of these categories gives you a pull-down menu of options. And the options here are useful, not arbitrary or decorative. A click on workforce, for example, pulls down the options "population statistics," "commuting patterns," "education and training," "wages" and "largest employers."

As you might expect, the site does have some good things to say about the area it's representing. (And we'd have a "Ripley's Believe It or Not" scoop if it didn't.)

But it smartly lets other folks - namely, its corporate clientele - do the talking. For example, the population stats section include quotes from executives from Kimberly-Clarke and ClientLogic on how their companies' operations have fared in the area.

Little Touches Indicate Careful
Consideration of How the Process Works

Surfing this site also uncovers a number of little touches that show careful consideration of how the site search process really works.

Consider the information that's required when you click the "Contact" option: Users requesting information don't have to specify their companies' names. (Loose lips not only sink ships; they also breed pink slips - a fact that inexplicably still escapes some ED agencies, particularly in their online incarnations.)

The site also smartly covers the bases in terms of functionality.

For example, as you'd expect, the regional links clickoff connects to all the affiliated organizations in TRV's 15-county service areas.

But there's another way of doing the same thing that's less obvious but much cooler. Users viewing the service area's online map can click on any county to get a profile. And those profiles include not only contact names and phone numbers, but also the contacts' e-mail links and links to their organizations' Web sites. And where do more than a few corporate site search ideas crystallize? While looking at maps.

Even with the proliferation of off-the-shelf products, developing a solid Web site will continue to be a challenge. The TRV site was developed to generate business leads. But it also provides some leads on building a Web site that has both pop and substance.



©2000 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. Data is from many sources and is not warranted to be accurate or current.