Websites That Show Character

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It's said that "Internet Design" is an oxymoron.  Certainly "quality," as well as "service," and the world wide web today are normally bitter antagonists.  In brochures or on the Internet, the question for companies of quality is how to convey their worth.  A few get the job done:

A. Patagonia - This is my favorite.  Patagonia gets right to the issue on the front page of its website, saying "we're still located in a handful of buildings in Ventura, and we still like to think that we make products for our friends."  They will treat customers like friends, and quickly refer you to essays about their roots, history, and philosophy.  See

B. Farrar Straus and Giroux - Certainly the nation's leading literary publisher -  a cut above the pack.  Very quickly we get a review of the firm from its founding just after World War II.  Can you doubt, reading this, that these are book people, not media people?  (Even if the firm is now a German Outpost, having sold itself a while back.)  As Editor-in-Chief Galassi says, "A wonderful thing about a small house like this is that we make our own rules . . . .  The rules of a commodity business don't apply to us."  While this enterprise may be somewhat bumbling, we don't expect these folks to deliver anything run-of-the-mill. 

C.  J. P. Morgan & Co, Inc. - You find a good section, somewhat buried, on "History, Philosophy, and Character."  What's impressive is the very last section on "philosophy and character." 

D.   Cravath, Swaine, & Moore - Refer to "The Cravath System." It means aggressive recruitment and progressive rotation of associates through one of 4 departments, so that he or she becomes a broad-based generalist.  The firm is defined by how its people get trained.  I am told this shows up in briefs and other written work where the writing is a bit more crisp and thoughtful than that of their competitors--at least for Wall Street's corporate finance departments.

E.  Tiffany & Co. - This site has a lot of history, as well as bibliography and biography.  Like many New York stores with an illustrious past, Tiffany uses memories of things long gone to enrich its prosaic present.

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