You Need More Than Just a Pretty Web Page

By Watson, Amy | The Birmingham Post (England), May 9, 2000 | Go to article overview

You Need More Than Just a Pretty Web Page


Watson, Amy, The Birmingham Post (England)


Why are so many companies disenchanted with their Web presence? Many people believe they haven't yet got the benefits they expected from their investment in the Internet. We recently surveyed 100 Midland-based manufacturing companies and only two per cent had sites clearly designed to deliver business benefits. The reasons seem to be threefold and the blame lies fairly and squarely with the IT industry.

The first is the perception, strongly driven by the plethora of Web design companies which have sprung up on the back of the Internet boom, that quickly getting a presence on the Web was important. This has a grain of truth.

The implication in the customers' minds was that the world would beat a path to their doors on the back of their website. The reality, of course, is that a shop window has to be more than simply pretty and well-designed - it has to be in a situation where the right customers see it on a regular basis. If your customers are small hairdressers' salons then you can work your website for all its worth (which probably isn't very much) and never get results.

The next relates to the failure of the IT industry to follow up on their original sale. Too many customers bought sites from 'hit-and-run' merchants who took their money, delivered a website and were never seen again.

Often I've heard customers drawing a comparison between the service they got pre-sale and their post-sale experiences. If a customer buys a site they should always be taking out an ongoing support agreement that will keep the site dynamic - have a good look at some of the moribund websites out there, damaging the image of their owners. Furthermore, unless a customer invests in positioning the site so the major search engines recognise the keywords and therefore find it easily, then the chance of favourable hits diminishes from the day the site is launched.

The industry often wasn't geared up to do more than design and implement the initial website and, even today, this trend continues in some quarters.

Finally, and most important of all, there is the failure to 'join-up' the whole IT infrastructure of the company. I was recently with a group of 12 managing directors of Midland businesses and no less than nine felt they couldn't take maximum advantage of the Internet because their back-office systems weren't up to the job. …

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