Sooner or later business owners will realize that the fast pace and competitive nature of the business today require them to have their own Internet site. In many of the business sectors this is no longer a luxury but a necessity. However, there are pitfalls that you as a business owner should be aware of before setting up your site. Understanding the Internet, your needs and expectations, your Internet site and your Internet Service Provider are the four elements that together determine the success or failure of your site. Deficiencies and ambiguities with any of these elements will certainly have an adverse effect on the outcome.
Understanding the Internet - Internet is a global network of computers that are interconnected via special hardware and software. It was initially intended to provide a real time link among various U.S. Government research centers. However, once its commercial potentials were realized, it was opened to the public. Over the last few years, Internet has grown and found its positions in every sector of the business world and our every day life. SIMPLY PUT, THE AMAZING EXPANSION OF THE INTERNET IS THE RESULT OF COMMERCIAL SUCCESS FORESEEN BY THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY.
Businesses use the Internet for different applications and subscribers visit it for different reasons. The majority of businesses use the Internet for advertising. Compare to the other types of media, Internet is a very inexpensive way of promoting a business. It acts like a live brochure and is easily maintained and updated. Some businesses use it for on-line commerce. Here, the company sells its products on line. Some provide on-line "entertainment" such as computer games and pornographic materials. Others become information providers and develop extensive Internet sites that attract a large number of visitors. This group recovers its cost by selling advertising spots to businesses. The information providers usually target a specific group who has common interests. Iran Online, CNN, and Yahoo fall in this category. Accordingly, those who surf the Internet have different needs and expectations that vary from business to entertainment.
Today, there are millions of Internet
sites that are in competition with each other to attract visitors. To overcome
the confusion of sorting through millions of sites to locate one, few companies
have developed Internet Search Engines. Yahoo, Infoseek and Lycos are just
a few to name here. These search engines help the Internet surfer
to locate desired sites based on a set of criteria that can be selected.
This is a noble idea but what do you do when the search engine tells you
there are 10,000 sites that meet your criteria? This has made the
Internet search engines ineffective as the tool for generating traffic
to given Internet
sites. With the constant increase in the number of Internet sites, making your domain noticed becomes more of an issue. It is clear that for an average business, simply setting up an Internet site will not do the trick. A Savvy Internet domain owner constantly looks for ways to advertise his / her Internet site. He has realized advertising the Internet domain name is as important as advertising the business name. One of the most effective ways is advertising the site to its targeted on-line community. For instance if your target market is the Iranian Internet community, your best bet is to advertise your site in popular Iranian Internet sites such as Iran Online and Iranian Online Yellow Pages. Furthermore, the domain owner will need to advertise the domain name in all other types of advertising that he or she sponsors.
Your needs and expectations - If
you are planning to set up an Internet domain, you should have realistic
expectations. Unlike TV or Radio advertising that let your message be heard
by a large group of people whether they like it or not, the Internet attracts
only those who are interested to learn more about your particular services
and products. Furthermore, owning an Internet site should be a long-term
commitment. Its effectiveness can only be measured over a long period.
In a way it
is like advertising in a yellow pages with an unlimited global circulation, where your site is only a few keystrokes away from your targeted audience fingertips.
To set up your domain, you first need to determine your targeted audience. Then you need to think about the information your audience expects to see. An experienced Internet service provider can help you to assemble and present your site in a manner that best fits the taste and expectation of your targeted audience. Included in this process is the identification of ways to advertise your domain name and site. For instance if Iranians and those who are interested to learn about Persia were your intended markets, it would make sense to advertise your site in Iran Online and Iranian Online Yellow Pages. Other ways of indirect advertising are including your domain name on letterheads, business cards and all company forms. Every site needs to be updated and modified every once in a while. You can usually get the best results when you provide the content and allow your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to come up with the presentation format. This is true, only if you have a knowledgeable and experienced ISP.
The speed of the site is dependent on the host server and the bandwidth of the network. The higher the network bandwidth, the faster the site responds to information requests. Unfortunately, most of the Internet Service Providers can not afford the cost of high bandwidth networks and use inferior networks with low bandwidth. Consequently, the sites that are hosted by these networks are slow and unappealing.
Site Navigation is another factor that should be considered. A good site allows the user to access the desired information or page with the minimum number of mouse clicks. For a typically small site this can be achieved easily.
Presentation techniques are crucial in making the site useful. Only an experienced and knowledgeable designer can determine the right presentation format by balancing and using the right amounts of graphics and multi-media clips in the site. A well-designed site minimizes visitors' idle time during the site navigation. It should also be noted browsers may not support some of the presentation techniques that are used. Understanding your targeted audience will allow the designer to guess the type of computer system and browsers that they use most likely.
Search engines compatibility is another area that needs to be considered in designing a site. Each page can contain a series of embedded information that aids various Internet search engines to determine its content. Unfortunately, since this portion of the page is not displayed on the screen, many of the designers do not take the time to complete them. Therefore, it becomes almost impossible for these sites to take advantage of Internet search engines.
Selecting ISP is probably the most important factor in the success of an Internet site. Therefore, selecting the right ISP becomes a key decision. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misrepresentation and misleading information that are disseminated to the novice client.
There are those who have managed to put together an obscure site and claim it to be the business directory for various markets. They usually encourage you to have a page or two under their so-called directory and pay a fee periodically. There are very few Internet sites that are usually recognized in each market. For instance there are probably only four Iranian Internet sites that are visited regularly by the Iranian Internet community, with Iran Online Forum being one of them. Advertising and being part of a high traffic site is a necessity without any doubts. However, having own dedicated domain name (http://www.Business-name.com) is also needed. This is part of the business identity and can not be replaced by a page in someone else's Internet site.
A qualified ISP educates his / her clients about Internet and how it can be utilized to serve their needs. This is essential since the ISP and client enter into a long term working arrangement. Therefore, it is to ISP's benefit to take the time and to discuss available options.
There are many that market themselves as Internet site designers. They design sites for a while. Unfortunately, after a few months the majority will go out of business and do not stay around to support and continue hosting the sites. Consequently all the up front design costs are lost and the site owners have to start all over again. To avoid this, you need to look for signs that assure you your ISP will remain in the business.