by Robert Rickover

(originally published in 1997)

“Tis a gift to be simple...” So begins the classic Shaker hymn. Most of the Shakers have been dead for many years now, but the furniture and household items they made are today highly valued by collectors for their simplicity and beauty.

Simplicity is also a virtue in the modern day process of publishing on the Internet. In this column I’ll offer a few suggestions for creating a simple, successful, Alexander Technique web site of your own. But first, I’d like to quickly answer two questions I’m often asked:

“Will it cost me a lot of money?” Absolutely not. In fact, if you already have an Internet provider (America On Line, for instance) it could cost you nothing at all. (Note: For reasons described on the page
How to Create an Alexander Technique Website, I no loger recommend this option unless you have a domain name pointing to the site. There are many other free options available, however.) At the most, a basic web site, including a photo or two, should cost no more than $40-50 to create and then perhaps $5-10 a month to post.

“Do I need to own or know how to use a computer to have my own web site?” No, although it would probably be helpful if you can have someone who does have Internet access to show you a little about how it works as well as some of the Alexander web sites.

Now for a few specific suggestions:

1.In some ways, the Internet is like a gigantic bulletin board and the features that make for a successful web site are not that different from those that would make for a successful 8X11 promotional flyer: it should say a little about the Technique, about lessons and about you, with perhaps a photo or simple logo. If you already have such a flyer, chances are it will work fine on the Internet.

2. Keep the text on your site short and snappy. Long pages of text wouldn’t be a good idea on a bulletin board and they certainly don’t work on the Internet.

3. Don’t overdo the use of graphics. They appeal to some Internet users but they can take a long time to download onto a computer screen - particularly for those with older equipment - and you run the risk that many potential viewers will become impatient and leave before seeing your site. (Note: This remains a major concern. Most internet users still do not have high-speed connections.)In fact, many Internet users deliberately suppress the graphics function on their computer because of this time factor. So if you do use graphics, make sure your site also stands on its own with just the text.

4. Do NOT start with photos of FM! They many mean a lot to Alexander teachers but to the rest of the world they are simply pictures of an old man in an odd-looking suit and they can’t for the life of them imagine what he has to do with their aching backs or stiff shoulders. If you do want to include a photo of FM, you can find a nice selection at
The F. Matthias Alexander Photo Gallery.

5. Include room for links to other web sites, either on your main page or on another page created just for this purpose. I’ll explain why this is important in my next column.

Take a look at some of the many Alexander Technique web sites presently on the Internet. You can get to most of them from
The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique (Most teachers’ personal web sites can be found on the page How Can I find a Teacher of the Alexander Technique?)

When you have an idea of what you’d like for yourself, find someone who can create and post if for you. If you don’t know anyone who can do this, ask at the computer sciences department of your local college or university. There are lots and lots of people who can put up a simple web page quickly and easily. (If you’d like to have a web address in the form,
contact me.)

In the next column, I’ll discuss strategies for making sure your web site gets the exposure it deserves.

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