CAMPAIGN INTERACTIVE: PRIVATE SURF WITH TIM CARRIGAN

I’m not averse to a gadget, so the boysstuff.co.uk proposition had instant appeal. What’s more, the section on personal transport promised the gadget I’d most been hankering after. I need one of those scooter things like now.

I’m not averse to a gadget, so the boysstuff.co.uk proposition had

instant appeal. What’s more, the section on personal transport promised

the gadget I’d most been hankering after. I need one of those scooter

things like now.



Cashing in on the whole new lad thing, this site targets all us sad

chaps who have nothing better to do with our dotcom millions than invest

in the latest widgets and gizmos. Or to quote the about-us: ’Boysstuff

is a completely unique concept in offline and online shopping. Our

promise is to offer you the finest independently tested and recommended

big boys’ toys at lower than high-street prices.’



Fine as far as it goes, but the combination of the boo.com-style Flash

graphics and the slightly Innovations-catalogue nature of the

merchandise left me a bit cold. It had that old feeling of being stuck

in yet another get-rich-quick.com fantasy, which might not exist next

year, next month or next week. The really sad part is that I just

couldn’t bring myself to part with dollars 499 for ’The original

California Sports Go-Ped’ scooter that I really need badly, and I guess

that’s the true test of any shopping site.



Now if you’re looking for a really fun way to blow your dotcom dollars

then I recommend treating yourself to death using zagat.com.



Zagat Online is a must-surf for any discerning digerati and the site is

one I actually use in my own time. A real test. It is basically an

excellent guide to the great places to eat and drink around the

world.



In the past few months, I have used it in Boston, New York, Venice and

Paris and I haven’t had one experience that has given me pause to

question the veracity of the guide’s information.



The guides, for those unfamiliar, are an idea really made for the

web.



Rather than rely on reviews by a jaded journalist on yet another

freebie, the reviews and ratings come from an aggregation of comments

from real punters spending their own hard-earned cash.



These guys have been organising this kind of what we internet people

call ’community content’ in print for years, and therefore understand

about creating content from a vast selection of user comments. They do

it really well - mostly by good writers reading the stuff and

summarising the comments in a way that is accessible and enjoyable to

read, rather than a long list of posts that takes ages to wade

through.



If Zagat is supremely useful then hangerhouse.com lies at the other end

of the spectrum. This is a great example of what our creative director

has termed ’Flashtabation’. This site for the eponymous architectural

practice has all the classic symptoms: beautiful design and animations

executed in such a way that it renders the content completely

impenetrable and void of meaning. I still have no idea what it was

about, but as five minutes of eye-candy it was really cool. Bound to win

Flash site of the day.



If it’s house and home you’re after, try foxtons.co.uk. This site proves

that good branding and good functionality can go hand-in-hand. I found

it recently while looking for a flat and it really stood out in the drab

wasteland of other estate agent sites, so much so that it was the only

site I actually checked into regularly while in the market.



It has a nice front end, a really simple and clean interface and good

search functionality, with photographs of the properties as the rule

rather than the exception, maps for every property and even the odd

virtual-reality walk-through. Someone really cares about this site and

it shows.



So the dotcom booty spent, the restaurant booked, the flat purchased and

my new scooter at the ready, the only problem is now I’m too hooked on

the unfolding drama at onlinecaroline.com to leave my computer.



I found Caroline via a company called XPT, whose promise is ’Total

Fulfilment Assured’. XPT has established a webcam in Caroline’s rather

well-appointed front room so that now I can tune in and see how she, her

boyfriend David and her so-called friend Simon are getting on. Caroline

sends me e-mails regularly and we are getting to know each other quite

well. I have even used it3c.co.uk to send Caroline a gift, but it hasn’t

arrived yet. Tune in and find out.



Tim Carrigan is the managing partner of OgilvyInteractive.