I’m not unique in that respect. If you’re a software developer, you’ll want to know about the latest and greatest programming languages and whether they’re significant enough that you should take a course on it. If you’re an IT manager or director responsible for hardware or software procurement, you’ll similarly want to be able to access the latest reviews on new products to determine whether you should shift from your status quo.I’m not unique in that respect. If you’re a software developer, you’ll want to know about the latest and greatest programming languages and whether they’re significant enough that you should take a course on it. If you’re an IT manager or director responsible for hardware or software procurement, you’ll similarly want to be able to access the latest reviews on new products to determine whether you should shift from your status quo.

The underlying question is, where do you go to find innovation without spending any more time on it than you can afford? After all, looking for innovation probably isn’t in your job description, even if it contributes indirectly to your daily job performance.

I’d like to walk you through one Web site that is an excellent model for the information-oriented Web sites you’re looking for, or the kind of Web site you might want to provide for your potential customers.

TechCrunch.com is my favourite source for finding innovation among Web ventures. (If you want to nominate a similar resource for software or hardware innovation, send me an e-mail.) TechCrunch was started several years ago by Michael Arrington and has become one of the most popular blogs on the Internet, according to Technorati. It features regular updates on the Web 2.0 technologies being launched by all manner of startup firms, as well as the attempts of more well-known software vendors such as Google and Microsoft to tailor their products and services for an online audience. Being mentioned on TechCrunch can instantly raise the profile of a fledgling firm, and, in some cases, add to its credibility among potential investors and customers.

Here are some guidelines based on what TechCrunch is doing very well. You should look for these qualities in other information sites, or use them as a checklist for building your own information site.

1. The blog style really conveys that the contributors are constantly “on the job.” You can go to the TechCrunch Web site, set up an RSS feed, or get regular updates by e-mail (my preference). Multiple distribution options means that the information is more likely to reach its target.

2. It’s not just about technology assessment. A lot of people are wowed by technology, without even thinking about . . . where is this company’s money coming from? Is it enough to sustain them? Is their marketing any good? Who are their competitors, and how do they rank among them?

There are far too many products and services that look innovative without the infrastructure to back them up. Buyer beware!

3. Opinions are important, even if you don’t agree with them. I’ve seen TechCrunch announce the launch of a new Web venture and then predict that it will soon be in their “dead pool” in the same article. That takes balls, but even if you think they’re wrong, you have to respect their call. Another piece this morning spelled out the good points of a Web service, then concluded with, “I personally find the service patronizing and obnoxious”. You’ve got to appreciate that level of honesty.

That’s it. Just three recommendations to make an information site accessible, informative, timely and effective. I wouldn’t want to undermine the importance of the research involved, but packaging the results appropriately is nearly as important in making an impact.

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