Setting up an On-Line presence: The process

The local on-line presence situation

A few years ago business owners did not consider the setting up of a website as a priority, mainly due to their market being a local one and many people just used to call or go to their shops and offices to see what services they offered. However, this scene in the last years started to change a lot.

Nowadays, people are searching for products and services they have interest in on the Internet, where they can easily compare several offers from different competitors, and then make the decision from home, and only after deciding going to the business for buy or order the service or product.

Also, by using a website, you are opening a window to the International Market. People from all over the world can easy see information about your products and services and purchase online. This gives local businesses the chance to increase dramatically their markets.

How to start

For micro to small enterprises, I suggest, at a minimum, to establish a web presence even with a simple site, that can consist of 5 to 6 pages, describing the company, what services or products are offered, a way how to receive feedback back, regularly updated news regarding new products or services, and other company related information.

For medium to large enterprises, or any business, that wish to provide a substantial amount of information available from the website, I do recommend the use of a content management system, which will organise all information in a way that is easily categorised, updated and searched.

Any business that wants to sell its range of products and/or services on-line, an E-Commerce system is a must. An E-Commerce system can be classified into two general categories:

  1. A bespoke solution, where the entire system is developed from scratch for your particular needs. This will offer you the highest level of customisation, enabling you to decide what features you want and how you want the system to process information.The disadvantage is that it can be quite expensive to produce.
  2. A customised, off the shelf, solution, is the ideal solution almost for everyone. An off the shelf solution will come with several features, which can be customised according to the customer requirements.
    New features can be added, or existing features can be removed. The cost of implementing this system is very low when compared to a bespoke solution.

When you decide to do a website, you should first sit down and think for what you actually need it, what are you hoping to obtain from it.

Then, with a clear idea in your head, you can contact your web design agency of choice, and start planning your website project. When you meet with who will take care of your website project, do not> hesitate to ask any questions you might have.

On-Line presence

Planning

What you will get at the end of the project must be clearly written and agreed prior to starting the project. This will avoid any problems at the end. You need to consider important aspects, such as how you are going to update the website. Are you going to sub-contract the updates to the web design agency, or are you going to do them yourself? In each case, you need to have clearly defined this prior to starting. If you are going to do the updates yourself, the agency should provide you with a minimal content management system, that is a system where you can log-in and make the updates through a simple to use on-line interface from your browser. If the agency is going to take care of your updates, define the costs and how fast the updates will be done.

Project Development

You as the client must be highly involved in the decision making activities during the course of the project development.  There must be a clear channel of communication between you and the project manager, so you are always informed what is happening. You should have access to several prototypes which you will check and approve before any work is continued. This will avoid the duplication of work, and a more satisfying product at the end.

Before the website is launched, it is