As both a card-carrying member of Generation X and products editor for Professional Remodeler magazine, I use the Internet every day. In fact, I can't fathom how my predecessors managed to do their jobs without it. The information I require for research is readily available online, but if I can't find what I need when I'm on deadline, it doesn't do me any good. Developing strategies and skills for speedy Web surfing has been a necessity.
For remodelers, the same skills can also improve project management, design and client interaction. Many manufacturers have product literature, photographs and specification data on their Web sites. Some even have systems in place for ordering products online. You can find information on the products you use, and even use those same sites to help present projects to potential clients--but not until you find it.
The first key to effective Web surfing is to use the right surfboard: find a search engine that works for you. Not all search engines are alike, and Yahoo! (http://www.yahoo.com) isn't always the best choice. AltaVista (http://www.altavista.com), WebCrawler, (http://www.Webcrawler.com) and Lycos (http://www.lycos.com) are also popular. HousingZone even has its own engine, ZoneIn, that searches more than 2,500 industry specific web sites. This will eliminate some of the extraneous response such as Microsoft.com when you type in "Windows."
After some testing and trial, choose a main engine that seems to be most intuitive for you - different search engines will bring up different Web sites, even when the exact same search terms are entered. But don't write off the other search engines once you've chosen your primary. No search engine can fulfill all your Web needs, and you should always try a few other engines if your main one doesn't come up with what you're looking for after a few tries.
When entering search terms, keep the following in mind: