When Future Publishing launched its Website, FutureNet, in
September 1994, it was little more than a springboard for its Internet
Pearson acquired Future Publishing in the same year, and it’s new-media
arm took over the running of the site.
The site was developed to contain information about all of Future’s
titles, but the presentation was flat and rigid, and hardly differed
from the off-line version.
Two-and-a-half years down the line, a new, improved version has
According to its editor, Roger Brown, the new service - a compendium of
many sites - is designed to attract users by offering sections that
appeal to individual interests.
’The Web is too big for people to comprehend and many get overwhelmed by
it. By grouping users together by interests, it becomes easier for them
to use - and for advertisers to target them,’ Brown says.
FutureNet comprises 16 general interest sites - PCNet, MacWeb, GameNet,
CyclingNet, Footbal Net, FilmWeb, ClassicalNet, FutureNet 97, MangaNet
and TotalNet. The TotalCar, MusiciansNet and SFNet sites will be
accessible in the near future, while TechZone, FoodNet and CraftNet will
be up and running by the end of May.
There are also five corporate sites for Penguin, Pearson, Microsoft,
Future Publishing and Compaq, the companies involved in creating
Almost every site has its own search engine which enables browsers to
look for whatever interests them the most.
PCNet also boasts a ’PC consultant’ and will work out a user’s ideal PC,
once they have completed a questionnaire. The opening question asks for
a budget and, once further details are entered (whether the computer is
going to be used for games, Internet connection, or word processing),
the PC consultant will calculate the cost of the hardware required.
CycleNet, aimed at cyclists, offers a unique function. When users
highlight a particular area of the country, the search engine will work
out a map, complete with cycle routes, that can be downloaded and saved
on to a hard disk.
FoodNet’s search engine unearths restaurants by area in a similar way.
The Larder Challenge aims to provide enthusiasts with recipes based
around the ingredients they choose to enter.
On the forthcoming MusiciansNet, would-be musicians can send in demo
tapes that are loaded on to the site. Potential employers can then
download and sample the artists’ work. Classified advertising will also
feature on this mini-site.
FutureNet carries banner advertising and Pearson claims to have had
considerable interest from potential advertisers since the relaunch last
month. The company is expecting to reach its target of an operating
profit of pounds 20,000 by the end of this year.
Advertising doesn’t just consist of static or rolling banners -
advertisers can sponsor features, such as the proposed Fantasy Tour de
France, which work on the same premise as Fantasy Football. Features
such as the PC consultant allow advertisers to follow up on potential
customers who have looked at the reviews of specific models of their PCs