A friend just sent me the URL for a newly released report from the US government about American's Internet usage. LOTS of valuable statistics here.
A Nation Online: How Americans Are Expanding Their Use Of The Internet.
This report is based on the September 2001 U.S. Census Bureauís Current Population Survey - a survey of approximately 57,000 households and more than 137,000 individuals across the United States. As such, the data in this study are among the most broad-based and reliable datasets that have been gathered on Internet, broadband, and computer connectivity.
As I take in this report, one overriding message comes through. Like it or not, if my website aims for a general audience, the name of the game for several years will be Make Newbies Comfortable.
50% online means 50% yet to come. So don't get fancy, keep the copy free of techie language and create REALLY obvious navigation. When I look at the most succesful commerce sites (Ebay, Amazon) the visual design is not very slick, and the IA nearly hits you over the head.