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Your Corporate Web Site

July 30, 2000

Almost every company today has a web site. Those that haven't as yet will soon have one. A presence on the web is no longer some nice to have stuff. If you are not on the web, you will soon be like a marooned community in an isolated island in the middle of nowhere.

Corporations are spending thousands having their web sites developed, either using outside contractors or by asking their own in-house IT staff to develop them. Your purpose could be one of several:

  • You want to have a presence on the world wide web
  • You wish that more and more people should become aware of your organization
  • You want to be known outside your won geographic area
  • You believe your products and services are valuable to a much larger customer base
  • You want to sell your products and services to ever larger numbers of customers
  • You want your geographically dispersed staff to be in touch with what is going on within your company.

There could be a host of other reasons to be present on the web. Regardless of what your motivations are, here are some pointers to keep in mind when going for the development.

Your Web Site Is A Public Place

Once you have a web site and make it available to others, you have no control over who can visit it when. It is there for every Jack and Jill to visit it when they please. You also have no idea why someone is visiting your site. Different people have different reasons to visit your web site. As a result, their expectations are different.

Visit As Many Web Sites As Possible

One great thing about the world wide web is that you too can visit as many sites as you like as often as you wish. Do some research to uncover web sites that are in the same business as yours, or similar ones.

Study the layout of these sites, so you can get a great idea of best practices in your line of business. The web is an unbelievable source of ideas. Check out the design, structure, links and similar matters.

If you are willing to experiment, go and visit web sites that are not in your line of business. You are likely to get some great ideas from these sites as well. Make a list of sites that capture your imagination - and bookmark them so that you can visit them frequently. Next, try and pick a handful of ideas that might embellish your site.

Make Your Site Totally Reliable

If there is one thing people visiting your site hate, it is getting there and finding that links don't work, or being faced with a message saying that the server may be down. You are vying for the visitor's eyeballs, and these eyeballs are tired and impatient. Here is something to think about - the average visitor had about seven seconds of patience. If you can't grab the visitor's attention within seven seconds, you have lost her maybe for good.

Make sure your web site administrator keeps close tabs on problems and that they are sorted out in double quick time. Visitors who come across these problems while visiting your web site will simply abandon it. They will then go and tell others about it. This is no different from the situation your customers face when they receive poor service from your salespersons.

Give Your Wares Away

The Internet is a strange place. People and companies give things away for free on the web. Heard of Napster? This web site allows you to download movies and songs for free - no kidding. Okay, the Federal Government forced the web site to cease operations at midnight July the 28th, US Eastern time, but this may not last for long. People will find other ways to give things away.

Free give-aways invite people to visit these sites. There is nothing more enjoyable than getting something for nothing. In fact, that is the whole philosophy of greed. Remember Netscape? Even the utterly capitalistic Microsoft gives Internet Explorer away for free.

I know it sounds crazy, but there is no better way to get the attention of your visitors. Moreover, if you want to widen your customer base, you have to convince people that you are good, even those who are not nearby and haven't heard about your company. The only way is to give things away, and excite people enough for them to want to come back and buy higher-value-added services. This is particularly true for virtual products - like web browsers, virus killers, articles, reports, presentations, and the like.

The web is a great garden, and your web site is one tree in this garden. If you want people to visit it and do business with you, make your tree worth climbing.

Sam Swaminathan

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