Building a better Web site

A great site starts with a great plan

with a scanned logo. A few well-organized pages about your company and products or services can go a long way to attract clients.

INTERACTIVE SITES
These sites enable visitors to take action rather than just read-e.g., search your site, order online and more. Prices begin around $5,000 and can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Because they require more technical expertise, these sites should be handled by a professional.

A simple e-commerce site includes online transactions, usually with a shopping cart and a third-party credit card processing company. Businesses that place up to 10 items online can get a free shopping-cart site from iCat Corp. (www.icat.com), an Internet services company in Seattle, or pay $50 a month for selling more than 10 different items. E-commerce comes in various forms. Scott Sedlik, director of brand marketing for iCat, breaks out these three levels, which can cost from $10,000 to $250,000:

Database-driven e-commerce provides consumers with a dynamic shopping experience. Visitors to the site are able to search, order and pay for an item quickly.

Integrated back-office includes ordering, inventory, accounting and shipping systems. All are tied together and require no manual input among the systems. Pertinent information is easily accessible to vendors and customers.

One-to-one marketing provides specific offers based on an individual’s behavior at the site. For instance, if a visitor looks at an item for a certain length of time and doesn’t purchase it, a special offer can be made before they leave the site.

“Don’t take the Web lightly,” warns Sentel’s Jackson. “Information on our site that we thought was pretty benign found its way onto a Yahoo message board. It resulted in a tremendous increase of hits on our Web site.” To field such response, assign someone to respond promptly to e-mail, answer phones and process orders efficiently.

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ACROSS THE WEB