An Internet website can be used as a powerful tool by different departments within your organisation including marketing, sales, customer service, public relations and also provide a service for partner companies, dealers, distributors, user groups, suppliers and agents.
Information can be linked in various ways to address different audiences and different objectives. It is a tool which can be continually modified and updated in response to changing circumstances.
A web site should be an integral part of the business and not an "optional extra". It should reflect the corporate style and mission.
To design your web site the objectives of all the various departments should be considered. These can sometimes be quite different.
Objectives may include:
You may not need more than a couple of pages to achieve your objectives - or you may need to consider a completely integrated site including interactive pages and electronic shopping. You will want some distinctive features to make your site stand out from the competition. We can advise you on the best way to meet your objectives.
The main access point to the site is the "Home Page" which will be accessible using a memorable URL (Uniform Resource Locator) or Domain Name. This address should be promoted as naturally as the company's telephone number or postal address and appear on all promotional material and publications.
The Home Page is important because it gives the site an identity and tells visitors what features are available. It is often tempting to put eye-catching graphics on the Home Page. However, this effort can be self-defeating as there are many variations of Web browsers in use and many standards of equipment - screens, modem speeds, etc. It can be very frustrating for users if a graphic cannot be displayed properly or takes a long time to load. On the other hand the Home Page needs to be exciting - so a careful balance and an understanding of the performance issues is necessary. We can help you with design.
One of the powerful features of the Web is the ability to make connections from one topic of interest to related or similar topics - which may be on other sites. You will rely to some extent on users arriving at your site from links on other sites.
However, the objective should be to keep visitors on your site so that you can continue to present your message. Unless you are specifically offering an information service, for example, you are an umbrella organisation for member companies, it is best to leave links elsewhere fairly discrete.
It is important to get links on other organisations' sites to point to your company Home Page. This takes research, and sometimes negotiation, to set up and maintain. Realcom is working on behalf of many clients we are in a good position to provide this service.
We will also register your web site with various search engines. These provide Internet users the ability to search for all sites with information about certain subjects. Registering your site with these search engines makes sure your potential clients will find you.
Users can send messages to you using electronic mail or using interactive forms. These can be used in a number of ways including:
If appropriate you can also use telephony features to place calls and have your sales or help-desk people talk directly and immediately to your prospect - and presenting the information he has entered into the form and the details of the pages he has looked at to the help-desk operator so he can offer an appropriate service.
Developing a web site is like any other project. It has to have a clearly defined objective, responsibilities need to be assigned and understood, there needs to be monitoring of achievement against objectives and it needs to have a budget.
From many years experience of planning and implementing computer and information projects we believe that the route of least risk is to break down the project into stages. This enables all parties to evaluate the current stage against targets and, if necessary, make modifications to ensure achievement of the desired objectives with minimum risk. We recommend the following stages:
Costs of setting up and maintaining a Web site should be justified in the same way as any other project - by increased revenue or reduction in costs. Some costs may also be recouped from sponsorship or advertising on the web site.
We believe that the key to a good Web site is in defining the objectives, organising the information and links to meet those objectives and then on-going management to ensure that it keeps on delivering.
Although the Web is easy to use, there are a number of technical constraints that need to be taken into consideration. This includes being aware of the various hardware and software platforms likely to be in use by your potential audience. We will take care of this for you.
You need to make arrangements for updating your website on a regular basis and when there is something new and immediate you want to publish. Are you going to do this yourself? Do you have the resources, skills and time? Do you need to put in place a support contract with your web designer or a web editor? See our section on Website Support for more on this.
Contact Sandra to discuss your website project.