The editorial in the September 1996 issue of Wood & Wood Products announced the launch of ISWonline by urging readers to read that month’s column on the new Web site.

Wood & Wood Productscelebrates the 10th birthday of Industrial Strength Woodworking by looking back and looking forward.


Ten years ago this month, President Clinton was revving up his reelection campaign against Sen. Robert Dole, the Taliban were plotting the overthrow of Afghanistan and the Yankees were steaming toward the American League East title and an eventual victorious showdown versus the Atlanta Braves in the World Series.

September 1996 also witnessed the birth of Industrial Strength Woodworking — www.iswonline.com. The digital offspring of Wood & Wood Products and Custom Woodworking Business came into the world of cyberspace two years after Jeff Bezos launched Amazon.com in his garage and two years before Stanford University grad students Larry Page and Sergey Brin powered up Google.

ISWonline has undergone numerous changes over the course of its first decade, some cosmetic, some functional, but all geared toward making the site a better information resource for professional

woodworkers.

As ISW prepares to celebrate its 10th birthday, major work is being done behind the screens to redesign and refine the Web site, as well as those of its related family of publications — W&WP, Red Book, CWB and CLOSETS, which only came into being in 2003. A grand re-launch will take place this fall.

Looking Back

The World Wide Web was hardly in the stream of conscience of most of the planet’s citizens 10 years ago. According to Nua Internet Surveys, there were about 30 million Internet users at the start of 1996, representing less than 1% of the world’s population. That summer, Harry Urban, then publisher of W&WP and CWB, forged a strategic partnership with WOODWEB, a pioneer of woodworking Web sites. The two magazines also conducted a joint readership survey, which indicated that a scant 9% of readers used the Internet for business purposes.

The domain name www.iswonline.com was registered on Aug. 14, 1996. ISW was short for Industrial Strength Woodworking, a moniker that was chosen to convey that the site was dedicated to woodworking professionals, not hobbyists.

‘ISW Is on the Air!’

W&WP was in the final throes of celebrating its Centennial when ISWonline went live on Sept. 19, 1996. A spinning yellow 55-gallon barrel bearing the CWB, W&WP and ISW logos greeted visitors. The initial news headlines included, “300 Arrested as Thousands Protest Logging of Redwoods,” “Clinton Administration Approves Salvage Logging” and “Late-Breaking IWF News.”

In what can now be viewed as a forerunner to the Blog, Associate Editor Larry Adams penned a series of long and short takes about IWF ’96 under the heading “The Eclectic Woodworking Journalist.” Adams shared his personal experiences of covering IWF, including witnessing and photographing what turned out to be a bogus bomb threat at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park, his take on some of the more intriguing booth displays at the show, snippets of sometimes irreverent conversations he overheard and relating his brief meeting with Cubs legendary third baseman and radio broadcaster Ron Santo.

Within days of ISWonline going live, W&WP subscribers began receiving their September issue. The issue’s editorial sported the ISWonline barrel, with the following Editor’s note: “This month’s editorial can be found exclusively on Wood & Wood Products’ new internet homepage, INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH WOODWORKING, www.iswonline.com.”

The online editorial, headlined “Industrial Strength Woodworking Is on the Air!” served to welcome visitors and explain the site’s goals and mission.

“Whether by design or accident, you have discovered/stumbled upon INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH WOODWORKING, the newest Web site on the Internet scene dedicated to those who have an acute interest in the business of woodworking…The principal objective of ISW is to augment our printed monthly publications with a medium that offers more timely coverage of breaking news and updates, plus a greater expanse of space to provide more detail and background of news and features that cannot be accommodated within the finite parameters of the off-line magazines’ pages.”

 



Looking Forward: ISWonline Prepares to Relaunch



The new ISWonline logo merely hints at the improvements that await visitors to the Web site when it relaunches with an entirely new design early next month. Site improvements on tap include a cleaner, more contemporary look; a more exacting search engine to help visitors find the content they seek; and user-friendly cross-indexing of 10 years worth of feature article archives by issue and department or subject.



While ISWonline will remain the umbrella Web site for Wood & Wood Products and Custom Woodworking Business, each of these magazines will have Web sites of their own at

www.woodandwoodproducts.com and

www.cwbmagazine.com respectively.



The span of the new ISWonline will also be big enough to encompass www.redbookonline.com and www.closetsmagazine.com.


Helen Kuhl, editor-in-chief of CWB, made the following observation in announcing the launch of ISWonline in the publication’s October 1996 editorial ”Surf’s Up at CWB:” “Just as custom woodworkers try to stay abreast of new technology to help them work more efficiently, our publications want to keep up-to-date in getting our information out as effectively as possible …This is an exciting plunge for us and it is an effort that we know will keep evolving as we learn more about the Internet and the possibilities it holds.”

‘Red Book Online to the Rescue’

That was the headline of the November 1997 editorial in W&WP, announcing the launch of an electronic version of the magazine’s popular Red Book Buyer’s Guide.

The editorial included this gem of prose: “[T]hough a powerful information resource, the Internet is bursting at the seams with clutter. Finding exactly what one is looking for on the Internet is a lot like searching for diamonds in a sulfur mine. This is where established publications like Wood & Wood Products step in to make Web prospecting a far more productive task.”

While many W&WP readers prefer to use their dog-eared copies of the annual print version of the Red Book, an ever-increasing number of woodworkers use the regularly updated Red Book Online as a tool for finding information on products and services offered by more than 2,200 companies.

Slow but Steady

Separate studies conducted by CWB and W&WP in 1998 indicated that the Internet, while beginning to have some impact, had hardly come of age.

The CWB Readership Profiles Survey completed in July 1998 found that only 7% of the respondents turned to the Internet as a primary source of new product information. That is less than one-fifth of those who indicated that they prized receiving a manufacturer’s literature through the mail.

The W&WP Project Millennium Study completed in October 1998 indicated that use of the Internet as an industry information source ranked ninth out of 12 industry information resources. Heading the list were trade shows and professional magazines. Internet usage fell slightly below seminars but ahead of newspapers, TV and radio.

The ISW Virtual Trade Show & E-Info

In the dawn of summer 1999, ISWonline ushered in its Virtual Trade Show and E-Info.

The ISW Virtual Trade Show ultimately featured more than 100 “booths” of products and services offered by manufacturers and distributors of woodworking machinery and supplies. In addition to new product information, the Virtual Trade Show featured random drawings of products donated by VTS exhibitors.

W&WP and CWB harnessed the speed of the Internet with the launch of E-Info, billed as a “new online alternative to the Reader Service Card bound into the magazine.” “It’s faster than a speeding bullet, as powerful as any Internet search engine and it never sleeps,” noted the June 1999 editorial.

While the Virtual Trade Show ran its course in 2001, E-Info remains a valuable resource used by readers to obtain more information about products and services highlighted in advertisements or editorial mentions.

Portal Power

Portal, a directory of woodworking-related Web sites, was polybagged along with the November 2000 issues of W&WP and CWB. The publication included more than 1,700 listings of company URLs divided into three sections: Industry Suppliers, Woodworking Firms and Services. The online version of Portal debuted simultaneously with hundreds of additional industry Web sites and has added hundreds more since.

The Portal editorial, “Information Explosion,” noted the power of the Internet at the dawn of the new Millennium. “The Internet has not so much evolved as it has exploded. It burst onto the scene like no other communication or information technology before it. For the price of a local phone call, Web users can communicate with or access information from the farthest points of the globe. Wireless technology is rapidly expanding the mobility of the World Wide Web while also bringing it to even more remote locales on land, sea and air.”

In addition, the Portal editorial cited a new study commissioned by W&WP and CWB indicating that 47% of readers surfed the Net for business purposes.

Similarly amazing, 40% indicated that while they used the Internet, they did not do so to search for suppliers and other industry-related research.

Meanwhile, driven in part by the surging popularity of DSL, cable and other far-faster-than-analog broadband connections, the number of Internet users worldwide reached 455.5 million by January 2001, meaning that 7.5% of the Earth’s population was connected to the Web, according to Nua Internet Surveys.

Wood of the Month Goes Digital

Through its first five years of being, one of W&WP’s most popular features — Wood of the Month — was noticeably absent from ISWonline. That situation was remedied beginning in December 2001 when 23 WOM columns were uploaded on the Web site. Today there are articles on about 100 wood species, from African mahogany to zebrawood, archived on ISWonline.

The ISWonline Update

The first volume of the ISWonline Update, a free electronic newsletter, was issued on Feb. 23, 2001. News headlines included Viking Range’s purchase of Rutt Cabinetry, Steelcase’s plans to lay off 10% of its hourly workforce in North America and Doucet's purchase of Progress Machinery.

The ISWonline Update is now emailed every other week to a database of more than 30,000 people. Free subscriptions to the e-newsletter are available at www.iswonline.com or by sending an e-mail to industrialinfo@vancepublishing.com.

Enter CLOSETS

CLOSETS magazine debuted in November 2003 and so did www.closetsmagazine.com. The magazine and its companion Web site offer information specific to the needs of professionals engaged in the burgeoning closet and home organization market.

In December 2005, an online version of The Guide, a compendium of product information for use in closet, garage and other home organization systems, was added to the Web site.

More Web Research

Wood & Wood Products Reader Profile 2003, completed in August 2003, found that 92% of readers had Internet access either at home or at work. In addition, nine out of 10 of those subscribers with Internet access, who indicated they visited a professional woodworking Web site, said they had visited ISWonline.

Two years later, the Wood & Wood Products Readership and Purchasing Profile Study finds that 95% of respondents have personally used the Internet for business purposes in the past 12 months. In addition, of those who have used the Web for business, 81% have searched for woodworking machinery/supplier companies and 47% have visited trade magazines’ Web sites.

One Billion Served

According to new research by Internet World Stats, there are now more than 1 billion Internet users, representing 16% of the world’s population.

The United States ranks number one with 205.5 million users, equal to more than two-thirds of the nation’s population. China ranks second with 123.0 million users, but that only represents 9.4% of its population. Rounding out the top five countries with the largest number of Web users are Japan, 86.3 million; India, 50.6 million; and Germany, 50 million.

Red Book Online Goes Interactive

One of the newest features on ISWonline is Red Book Interactive. Added to the Web site in April of this year, this digital version of the 2006 Red Book offers select chart listings and ads hyperlinked to the Web sites of leading manufacturers and distributors of woodworking machinery, supplies and services.

Red Book Interactive is a harbinger of things to come. Stay in tune with www.iswonline.com for new and exciting features.

 

More Visitors, More Page Views, Longer Viewing Sessions



The numbers tell the story. More and more woodworking professionals are logging onto www.iswonline.com to feed their hunger for industry-specific information.



According to statistics collected by WebTrends, a firm that specializes in Web analytics and marketing performance, ISW visitors are not only growing in number, they are staying longer — on average 14 minutes and 26 seconds per visit last month — to search more of the news, features and product database content ISWonline has to offer.



The accompanying chart compares Web traffic to ISWonline for the entire month of June 2003 to that of June 2006. While the number of unique visitors grew nearly 40% in that three-year period, the number of people who make multiple visits has nearly doubled. What’s more, the number of pages they view more than doubled to 402,483 in June 2006
ISWonline Visitor Traffic: June 2003 vs. June 200
  June 2003 June 2006 % Change
Visitor Sessions 90,727 192,741 +112.4
Page Views 181,773 402,483 +121.4
Unique Visitors 41,536 57,889 +39.4
One-Time Visits 33,880 42,604 +25.7
Multiple Visits 7,656 15,052 +96.6
Avg. Session Length 11:31 14:26 +25.1
Source: WebTrends

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