Haven't we been through this before?

by Jason SalasMonday, September 24, 2001

It’s time we get progressive about the Web economy…and give some much-deserved recognition to those local developers who have helped make it work for Guam businesses

“Mommy, stop the merry-go-round…I wanna get off…”
I’m in a very bad mood right now. Instead of writing code, I’m moved to write my feelings - being haunted by a nagging problem. I’m sick and tired of reading the same article over…and over…and over.  How many times have you seen the following in various incarnations over the past four years from various local media outlets: Why should your business get a Web site? Well, Web designer X thinks that businessperson Y should get a site built to increase their exposure and chances at doing business better by factor Z.”  D-uh! 

Here’s every article’s theory summed up in a single sentence: a Web site is, in today’s marketplace, an essential means of competing; thus, not having a formal online presence makes you an inferior competitor.  See how easy that was?

It’s time to grow up.

Articles of this nature are classic cases of the blind leading the blind…newbie Web “professionals” haphazardly offering their advice on what is essentially a complex business subject, being interviewed likewise by writers who themselves are largely green with the Web. Articles that include rhetoric stating the obvious and unjustly discounting important topics such as the use of Flash animation on Web pages. Such behavior is characteristic of the inexperienced and the ignorant.

Think about it: in today’s hypercompetitive e-conomy, Flash wouldn’t be around if millions of people worldwide weren’t using it. And if Microsoft, IBM, Cisco, Intel, Ford, and GE are willing to implement Flash on their own sites, foregoing the use of other proprietary animation software (in many cases, their own) one would think that there’s some practicality to its uses. Or so one would think. It’s pretty much the standard for building sites that promote major motion pictures. And if used effectively, can be very competitive. And that’s what it’s all about...right???

I’m also uneasy with the repetition of “Web site reviews” written by people who know little, if anything about the technicalities or marketing science behind the Web itself. I’ve given lectures to many a marketing moron over the years about site design strategies and how to evaluate the effectiveness of an organization Web presence.  A site, is not a site, is not a site. Different industries have different consumer needs, and thus take dissimilar approaches to deliver their messages. Also, a key point missing from articles written regarding business sites is - how successful is the site? Does it profit the company directly with monetary revenue…or indirectly, through enhanced market reach, brand awareness and exposure? One would think this would be rather important.

The main reason why Guam's industrial progress is stunted is because we force ourselves to accept the mediocre over an extended period of time. Contrary to popular belief, people will rise to the occasion if challenged.  And this is nowhere more evident than in making the Web work for local businesses. We need to challenge ourselves from time to time, in the name of progress.

What works
I’ve seen so many great local sites fall by the wayside because of poor promotion, mismanagement, or lack or planning. And that’s unfair to the developers who’ve worked hard to transform their vision into tangible product. My friend John Day (Vice President for Startec/PCI) has some very big plan for content delivery on his site, but has had to put off on it. I hope it works out…he’s shared his vision with me on a number of occasions, and I’d like to see it come to fruition.

People often ask me what my favorite local sites are. I’m fortunate in that I get to talk to a lot of people and find out what’s really up with a site…and if it really is a success. I basically get paid to browse the Web and watch TV, so I visit hundreds of sites per day, many of them local, so pages have to be really good to make it as one of my Bookmarks.

Even for the successful Web production houses on island (and there are only one or two that bring in enough revenue and have established credible reputations to actually make a lucrative, full-time career out of Web development…iCON Corporation probably being the most prevalent) it’s a tough sell to get someone to truly buy into the concept of developing a site as an integral business component, and convince them to support it with sufficient resources. As an example, I consulted KUAM for 4 months on product development and online marketing strategies alone before writing a single line of code for what would become the new KUAM.COM. The role of the Webmaster has increased significantly in the past four years, and more and more, businesses are seeing the importance of having in-house development staff.

And sadly, not all of the great local sites that make it up onto the Web ever get the credit they deserve. Sure, out here we’re limited in training, resources are scare, and there isn’t a huge peer community of skilled, experienced developers who can check their egos at the door and be willing to help expand the profession, but there are some very talented people advancing the practice of Web development.  I thought I’d do my friends in the Web community a favor and give their labors some well-deserved free press.

Based on the criteria of a site’s aesthetic appeal, features, functionality, back-end technology, awareness, value to the company, business model, and level of success(es) the organization it represents enjoys, here are some examples of people that are doing it right:

Today's Realty

Some of the best work I’ve seen come out of Guam in years. A fantastic combination of content and functionality, with a very cool layout. I dove into the code and was very impressed. This really has done wonders for streamlining Today’s Realty’s operations, especially with our constrained economy.

I was so inspired by Justin Howard’s work, I aggressively recruited him for the KUAM.COM Team…sadly it didn’t work out…

Saipan Tribune

Yeah, these guys are in direct competition with us, but the Saipan Tribune’s site is the only regional news site I really like. It has all of the features for an advanced news delivery service (archived stories, search, multimedia), they update all the time, use Cold Fusion...and has been around for years!


I really like Joey Perez’s writing and Ron Hass’ code because the focus is on very topical, very timely content. And it changes often. It’s very entertaining and has several features you can get interactive with.

They’re an example of someone who’s “got it”…harnessing the core asset – information – to their advantage.


They’re the first, they’re still the best.  Kuentos has been doing it right since introducing the Internet to the island (or is it the other way around?) in ’93. The company’s site has enough vital content and interactive features to make it a recurring favorite…and they always improve on it.


Finally…someone had to guts to bring e-commerce to the island in some manifestation, with BOG’s online banking services. Macromedia advocate Ed Cruz started a revolution within the local banking industry, which led to other sites following suit with their own Web products. Much like what KUAM.COM did for online news.

Guamcell Communications

Designed by Steve Dierking and the iCON crew, this site really incorporates Guamcell’s products and integrates services such as paging, Web-based e-mail, SMS…something the other telecomm firms have yet to even touch. 

It also markets effectively, al la the input from Glimpses. When this site came on the scene in 2000, it was one of the more aesthetic ones out there, and it still rocks.

GTA Phone Directory

Now when do you not need the friendly services of GTA’s directory staff? OK, the layout could be a bit more appealing, but this is something I use all the time. Ben at Kuentos told me that this one was a big stresser...but it’s paying off. Plus, you’ll never get charged $0.25 every time you look someone up...

PMC Isla Health System

This one’s been around for years, and it uses some older Web technology, but it still holds true as a great site, beautiful both in form and in functionality. The main drive is on delivering information and providing interactivity.


Let’s face it...iCON does good work. This was one of the first sites on island to implement a database in its back-end....to provide timely information about Triple J's cars inventory.

This is also an example of one of the local companies who couples their online activities with real-life marketing effort.

Club Texas

Now what was that you were saying about Flash being obsolete???


One of Guam’s Renaissance men – an artist, poet, musician, and connoisseur of life's finer things. It takes a few clicks to get there, but once you do… The only thing cooler than Blu’s art is Blu himself.

If you’re a fan of Wyland’s panoramic underwater paintings, you have to see this.

Guam Sex Offender Registry

Developed by Vince Munoz’s MIS Department at the Superior Court of Guam, the site deals with material of a very sensitive nature and has a history of being down a lot, but when it’s up it’s a great piece of work.

And as far as I know, the only locally-produced site using Java Server Pages to access database resources. A fine piece of work serving a very important purpose.

The real Web developers on the island - Pixelunion, Plexus Informatique, iCON Corporation, ByDesign, Kuentos Communications, Pi Internet Solutions, Digitribe, StudioD, Shark-Bite Websites - the guys and gals who take a very scientific, very focused approach to content creation and Web design really research into the creation of dynamic Web applications, use a plethora of advanced technologies to bring their ideas to life.  You’ve probably never heard of many (or all) of these people, and with good reason. They’re always working, if not on current projects for clients, then on expanding their own skill sets. These guys represent the cream of Guam’s crop for local Web development.

So the next time you’re on one of their sites…drop a line to their Webmaster and tell them I sent you and let them know what you think of their work.  Support your local Web developer…and march towards progress!

We’re setting up a “Best of” series on the top locally-produced sites, so make sure to write me back and let me know what you think the best are!

The main reason why Guam's industrial progress is stunted is because we force ourselves to accept the mediocre over an extended period of time. Contrary to popular belief, people will rise to the occasion if challenged. We need to challenge ourselves from time to time, in the name of progress.
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