It's a scary Web out there

Summary:From ghoulish redesigns to spooky Webcasts, the Web's biggest sites are getting into the Halloween spirit.

The Web's major sites are celebrating All Hallow's Eve in grand, cyber style.

And leading the ghoulish pack of Halloween-ized portals is Excite (Nasdaq:XCIT).

The Redwood City, Calif.-based company has transformed its front page from its usual yellow, red, and black colors to a background of black and orange. The spectral ambience is made complete by a ghost and bat chasing each other around the browser window.

"We're always trying to find unique ways to surprise the users," explained Debbie Kristofferson, Excite's director of network programming. "These little special things, while they might seem trivial, go a long way towards making people see we have a personality at our site and a sense of fun."

While the rest of the major portal sites aren't making such a dramatic design change in celebration of the holiday, all have created special Halloween features like spooky online greeting cards, pumpkin carving guides, or tips for creating your own costume.

Instant 'boo'
Visitors to MSN.com's Halloween guide can set up their instant messenger service to automatically ping their friends with a "Boo! I'm watching you" message every time they log on.

At Lycos' (Nasdaq:LCOS) Halloween Extravaganza, visitors can enter the portal's Hallowitch Sweepstakes to win a home theater system or bid on Dr. Evil's silver suit from "Austin Powers," or Freddy Kreuger's claw from "Nightmare on Elm Street" at Lycos Auctions.

Online auction site eBay doesn't have any obvious holiday spirit, but clearly its members do. A search for Halloween on eBay (Nasdaq:EBAY) turned up 4,045 items for sale.

Through a partnership with Haunted America, America Online's (NYSE:AOL) Halloween channel (keyword: Halloween) gives members the chance to look up directions to local haunted houses. Like most of the major sites, AOL is running a poll. After 30,000 votes, "a piece of celery" is winning for "best Halloween costume."

Halloween parade Webcast
"Every holiday is becoming more interactive and helping people become more creative," AOL spokesperson Cathie Lentz said when explaining how the Internet has changed traditional holidays. "It really brings convenience to the holidays."

For celebrants looking for more a "up-close and personal" view of Halloween, Yahoo! Halloween will link to a live Webcast of New York City's Halloween Parade. Yahoo! (Nasdaq:YHOO) will also feature a live Webcam turned to New York City's Greenwich Village, from 4:00 PM PT until 10:00 PM PT on Oct. 31.

Topics: Browser

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