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Your Website is Live

Your Website is Live

Teacher: Steve Cartwright

You’ve worked long and hard, but finally your new Web site is finished, it’s sitting there a model of perfection with everything just looking as you always wanted it to. In fact, you may have gone so far as to tell the powers that be that, this time the Web site cannot fail to generate business, so confident are you of it’s success.

The previous Web site you see, didn’t quite look the part or so your marketing colleagues advised you and that must have been the reason that no new business was ever received from the Web site. It had to be the content after all, there could be no other reason could there?

This new Web site has addressed every perceived problem, every department head is happy with it, the marketing guys have been hard at work and everyone is waiting for all those envisaged leads to materialize as if by magic.

I wonder how many people or organizations have been in similar situations and have taken similar steps to try and resolve some perceived problem, many thousands I would estimate… in fact if I was to tell you that the vast majority of Web sites actually fail abysmally in attaining their Internet goals and that some companies are actually turning away from the Internet believing wrongly that the Internet is not right for them. This actually is about the worst action any company can take, not only does it close the door on a valuable resource if managed correctly but it could ultimately lead to a substantial loss of revenue as your customers utilise other Internet based competitors.

Ensuring your business Web site is a success is now critical to many businesses, gone are the days when simply saying you had a Web site was enough, now your business needs one and it needs to actually be a valuable resource and not a drain on resources as many undoubtedly are.

So how do you ensure your company’s Web site is a success? This actually is not as hard as you would imagine, all it takes is ensuring you are working with the correct people and that these people understand the Internet and Business equally.

Now, many of you will undoubtedly have IT departments, you may even have your own Web site administration staff but the truth of the matter is that although these people are generally good at the day to day operational needs of the Web site, they are often not really the best suited to actually develop it.

Why is that you might ask? Well let me give you an answer of sorts:

  • IT staff are generally interested in IT matters and would not normally call themselves business experts.
  • Senior Management understand their business perfectly and may even have some understanding of IT matters, however it is extremely unlikely that they would call themselves experts in this field.
  • Many members of staff are often too preoccupied with their area of business to be able to step back and take a look at the larger picture, something that is obviously required.
  • Of course there are exceptions to everything, but even here would these companies, individuals actually know enough about the Internet to understand how best to utilise it for their business goals?

As I said, that is an answer of sorts, what you actually need is “VISION based on experience” and as the Internet is still a relatively new form of communication for many organizations these skills are none existent to a large extent.

This is where experts like ourselves come in, we specialise in “enabling online business” to help ensure your business maximises its potential.

Now, as much as I would like to make this a sales orientated article the main purpose is to actually provoke a few thoughts and to hopefully give you a few ideas you can implement in your own business.

The best way to do this is to actually walk you through a typical enquiry, not from a “how we price it” point of view but just on some of the thoughts and processes we implement.

When approached by any client requiring our development services, we tend to ask them the following basic questions:

  1. Tell me about your business, it’s corporate profiles, its products and services, how you communicate with your customers / suppliers.
  2. Now tell me what your perceived Internet goals are? Go in to as much detail as possible, just tell us what you would like the Internet to do for your business no matter if you think it possible or not. If you can envisage a Web site tell us about it.
  3. Budget – By establishing details of your budget to start with, we can then work to ensure your goals are achieved whilst remaining within your budget. It potentially sets the maximum number of hours at our disposal.

Once we have examined all this information, checked your competitors we then prepare a fully detailed document, normally running at around fifty pages or so.

This document contains our recommendations and suggestions on the type of Web site you should be developing; this generally includes the items you have specifically requested together with other less obvious items based upon our experience.

For example, a US based client of ours (IBC) recently approached us with a view to developing an online store to sell a range of hats over the Internet. We asked the questions above and submitted our documentation accordingly. Just take a few minutes here and think about what you would recommend to someone that wants to set-up a shop online, coming to you for advice as much as anything else.

Well, we actually quoted for developing a full custom built online shop to meet her envisaged requirements, we proposed to utilise an SQL 7 database with a full backend administration area so that the client can maintain selected areas of the site, and of course the product database.

On top of this we added in these specific recommendations of our own, the main purpose of which were to give her business the best chance of online success. These recommendations where:

  • Gift Certificates – Purchasing a hat is an extremely personal thing, and purchasing a hat for someone else is extremely hard to do, what with different styles tastes and colours. To overcome this problem we suggested that a gift certificate scheme be developed so that people can purchase gift certificates, which can then be redeemed as goods at later date. We basically identified a potential area of revenue loss and addressed it so to ensure maximum revenue.
  • Rewards Scheme – How often do you purchase a hat? Not very often I bet and even if you do wouldn’t it be nice to get a discount for doing so. We suggested that a rewards scheme be introduced so that existing customers making repeat purchases within a certain time frame quality for that extra discount. This should help ensure maximum revenue per customer whilst also making the customer feel important enough to warrant a discount, not to mention the market opportunities this presents.
  • Newsletter – An obvious one that most people miss, but you really should utilise your Web site to maximise business opportunities and just because someone doesn’t purchase something off you today it doesn’t mean that they never will. By allowing people to sign-up to receive details of special offers and such like you also start to maximise potential revenue… who knows in the future you might want to swap advertisements with a complementary newsletter thus gaining valuable free advertising.

As you can see we took the basic concept and developed it further so that it exceeded all expectations, I’m also pleased to say that the order was secured on this basis, as what we proposed to develop was within budget and also exceeded expectations.

Further all developments, no matter who is designing them should include some basic online marketing, for example how will visitors find you?

Fact: 81% of the audience that is looking for your products or services begins at a search engine (Forrester, June 2000)
Fact: Five million pages of new content are added to the web every day (NEC Research, Nov 2000)
Fact: 378,000 domain names are registered every week (Network Solutions, Nov 2000).

Understanding each search engine’s registration criteria, and their indexing processes is a fundamental requirement of any successful online campaign, this needs to be addressed in the development cycle. Included with every development we undertake is some form of basic marketing to help ensure online success.

We can also work with our clients to design and develop unique online marketing plans and strategies to meet any marketing budget. This ensures that our clients’ goals and objectives are met and further that their Internet Presence is an asset rather than a drain on resources.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, this is all well and good for everybody else’s business but my business is just a little too complex for any outside organization to understand. Wrong, in cases like this we actually suggest that companies purchase a full consultation service from us, this is designed so that we can investigate your business model, its processes and procedures. We then prepare some very detailed documentation based upon our suggestions and findings.

In this documentation we will also include our associated costs for developing and implementing the system as detailed. However as you have purchased our consultation services you can also if required seek other quotations based upon our documentation so confident are we in our services.

We work with all our clients no matter how small or how large they might be, we try to ensure long term working relationships by enabling online busines

About the teacher:
Steve is the CEO and executive publisher of Cyber Aspect and is the senior management of the publication. Steve is also a regular contributor to the international edition of Cyber Aspect and Web Builder Bulletin. When not working on matters of publishing and news, Steve serves as the CEO of Website Designs Ltd in the United Kingdom and is the founder of the company. Prior to entering the Internet industry, Steve was involved on a senior management level within the international construction industry, working with super skyscrapers throughout the Middle East and other global locations.


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