Thursday, November 03, 2005





How to Build a Business Website








Information Technology

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How to Build a Business Website

Author: Nowshade Kabir

A recent report done by Yankee Group, a Boston-based market
research company, states that at the end of 2004 around 34
percent of small and medium sized businesses in North America
are selling goods and services on the Internet and another 25
percent is planning to do so within next 12 months. Online sales
in the United States represented 8.4 percent of the country�s
Gross Domestic Product in 2004. This figure is increasingly
rising. This means, if your company is not paying serious
attention to this vital channel of sales and marketing, you are
simply missing the boat.

In its basic form a website is a bundle of pages full of texts,
graphics and other electronic files published on the Internet
for people to view. How you organize your website depends
totally on your online goals. Websites are built for various
purposes. You can use a website as a sales point, a marketing
channel, a corporate image building tool, a branding channel,
an information center, a CRM center, a product launching center,
and for number of other reasons. When you plan to build a
website, you should base your online strategy keeping in mind
two things: your online objectives and your potential audience.

SOME OF THE MOST COMMON TYPES OF CORPORATE WEBSITES ARE:

Information providing sites

Most of today�s sites fall in this category. The simplest of them
are actually mere reflection of offline corporate brochures.

Promoting company
The idea behind some of information-driven sites is to give
maximum information related to the company. A holding company,
for example, may prefer to have a site like this. These sites
usually include: company history, company related news, mission
statement, profiles of key executives, a good FAQ section, etc.
Graphics are used in these sites only to accentuate the text
information. However, the sites may include video and FLASH
presentation as well.

Promoting products or services
A pharmaceutical company to promote its recently launched
medicine may develop a website surrounding the product. The
sole purpose of this type of sites is to create awareness of
specific products or services.

Creating brand awareness
A manufacturing company that sells its products exclusively
through distributing channel may develop a website to provide
ultimate information on the products and create brand. These
sites complement company�s offline promotional efforts and
always built in consistence with other commercials.

E-commerce

Online sales are done through the e-commerce sites. Main
characteristics of an e-commerce site include:

1. Detail products or services information with pictures and
sometimes with multimedia presentations, drawings, charts,
etc.
2. Shopping cart � so that the buyer can select one or several
items to purchase.
3. Payment gateway � so that the buyer can make payments for the
products or services purchased.

Corporate portals

A Website that offers a broad range of resources and services
such as email, forums, company pertinent news & articles, members
only area, etc. is generally called a portal. Portals are
intended to be the gateway for their respective audience.

B2B exchange

Business to Business Exchange is an online platform where buyers
and sellers come to communicate, collaborate and make business
transactions. The main objective of a B2B Exchange is to create
a venue, filled with features that allow members to efficiently
conduct business processes through the Internet. A private B2B
exchange is a corporate portal with a marketplace. It is designed
to provide services to the company�s own buyers, sellers and
workforce.

WEBSITE PLANNING

Before starting to build your website you should first develop a
plan in line with your online objectives, target audience and
resources. You can write your plan thoroughly as a storyboard.
A storyboard is something similar to a flowchart of all the
website components you deem necessary. Once you have a clear
picture of what you are going to build, sit with your developers
and create a technical scope of the project. This is absolutely
necessary! In most of the cases your entrepreneurial vision will
differ drastically with the way a programmer look into your
requirement.

While working on your scope or even after publishing your website
bear in mind the following crucial aspects of effective websites:

Page loading time
In the euphoria of having a great slick website, often, we use
images that make the pages too heavy. A page which takes just
one second to load with T1 speed will need full 55 seconds to
load with a 28.8 modem. Web surfers are impatient bunch of
click-happy people; they don�t like to wait too long! Make sure
you optimize each and every page of your website before launching
the site! Otherwise, you will loose a large portion of your
would-be visitors for nothing!

- Look at your pages from a visitor�s prospective.
- Eliminate all images that are not so important to deliver
your messages. Optimize the remaining images with available tools.
- FLASH images are may be cool, don�t use them just because they
are cool. Use them wisely. Host your website in a server with
a good bandwidth.

Navigation
Your website�s links should be well-defined, persistent, and
easily visible. If the site is large with many pages, you must
have a site map page. Remember that not all visitors will land
to your homepage, in order to keep them browsing through your
site make navigation from your main landing pages as easy as
possible. Try giving them compelling reasons to do so by using
catchy links. Also, make sure that all your links work correctly
and take a visitor to right place.

Webpage consistency
All your web pages should have one consistent look. This will
give your website a professional appearance, and visitors while
browsing through your site will always know that they are still
on your website.

Content is the king
If you want your visitors to return back to your site, regularly
add fresh, relevant and quality content to your website. Internet
users are information hungry people, feed them with fresh
information on a regular basis and you will have good number of
loyal visitors to your website.

If you already have a website make sure you optimize your website
from user�s point of view. According to Gartner, a market
research company, even a minor investment in improving the
usability of a company website will yield an annual return of
10 to 20 per cent. It increases brand awareness, leads to higher
user adoption rates and possibly more transactions per user.
Average order size starts to rise and the site generates more
return visits from customers.

RESOURCES

Website Performance Tool and Web Page Speed Analysis:
http://www.websiteoptimization.com/services/analyze

Check your web pages for bad links:
http://www.siteowner.com/badlinks.cfm

Webmaster resources:
http://bignosebird.com

About the Author

Nowshade Kabir is the founder, primary developer and present
CEO of Rusbiz.com. A Ph. D. in Information Technology, he
has wide experience in Business Consulting, International
Trade and Web Marketing. Rusbiz is a Global B2B Emarketplace
with solutions to start and run online business.
You can contact him at mailto:nowshade[at]rusbiz.com
http://ezine.rusbiz.com

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