Tuesday 03 June 1997
Vital Woman is one of those sites that you have to suss out for yourself. No "About this site" page. No credits. No clues, except the name, and what's there to read - unless you take a look, as I did, at the HTML code of the site, where you find this "meta" (ie invisible) text: "Volkswagen's Vital Woman is aimed at professional aspirational women who can use Vital Woman as an essential guide to areas including fashion, events, horoscopes, and business. The site is updated on a daily as well as a monthly basis." Ah, so.
The main page is the daily section, with a profile or two of successful women, briefings on key developments in business and fashion, site of the day and a rundown on cultural happenings "tomorrow". The Essentials page is the monthly section - a summary of key happenings in fashion and culture, with a calendar that strays into the sports arena, too.
And, as not advertised, there's a horoscope. All of this is stylishly displayed in a cool, minimalist fashion, with not so much as a hotlink to the sponsor's site.
Vital Woman looks like a Vogue spin-off - the sites are certainly coded by the same people. Vogue's site is, of course, essential viewing for anyone seriously interested in high fashion. It's part of Conde Nast's famously award-winning site (along with Tatler and men's soft-porn-without- reaching-for-the-top-shelf mag, GQ), and stars a page called Fashion Daily, which in fact has a rather broader scope, not entirely dissimilar to that of VW. The beauty section is less frequently revised, so you don't need to replan your make-up strategy daily. You may want to know that "if there is a single make-up trend for this season, it's all based round white".
For the detached observer, the high spot of Vogue is the archive - not the usual database of stuff recently removed from the site but a selection of material from the printed magazines, going back to 1946, complete with historical analysis.
Taking a stride downmarket, we arrive at New Woman, a sort of Loaded for grrrrls - "the magazine for women who know what they want out of life and are prepared to go and get it". This means features such as "Five Instant Stress Busters", an interactive erotic novel, nine possible reasons why your sex life isn't sizzling, and a chance to vote for your hottest hunk.
For a typically professional, info-stuffed American site - and a pure zine, unrelated to a paper publication - take a look at Women's Wire. We'll need many more modems in Britain before we can support a serious enterprise like this.
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