12/30/09

How Can A Website Benefit Your Business

How Can A Website Benefit Your Business
by: Vignesh Rajendran

1. Why should you have a website?

In order to succeed in today's world, you must have an Internet presence. More and more people log on to the internet everyday; there are billions of users world-wide and there are several reasons why one needs a web site. A website is a powerful first impression. Placing your business on the World Wide Web, gives your business the potential for global exposure, no matter the size of your business – be it large or small; singular or multi-national. To have your own website gives your business invaluable advantages, which is illustrated in the answer to the next question, viz-a-viz:

2. How can a website be useful?

Website help you leverage web services for streamlining data transfer to and from your organization.

There are myriad reasons for - How a website can be useful and why you should bring your business online? Some of them are, briefly, mentioned below:

a. Enhanced customer convenience

Your business concern can be more easily and quickly reached, every time a potential or an existing client searches for relevant businesses, products and services over the Internet. Your customers can always keep in touch with you and your business, just by knowing your web site address.

b. Greater reachability of your business profile:

Your business profile can be accessible from anywhere in the world. No other ad medium provides such global coverage. You need not depend on phone book entry or restricted yellow pages and newspaper ad presentations, any longer.

c. Greater possibilities for promoting your business portfolio:

People will not buy your products or services unless they know that they actually exist. You can tell your potential audience much more through a WEBSITE, than you could possibly do via any print advertisements, Yellow Pages listings, or TV/radio commercials. There are no limitations as far as space, time, nationality and residency are concerned. You can say as many things as you want, to as many people as you wish. And your business representation can be as resourceful as is the Internet itself.

d. Efficient low-cost advertising:

Your customers will always be able to obtain thorough up-to-date information about your services or products. Instead of having to rely on randomly aired TV or radio commercials, they can simply browse through your website whenever they like.

e. 24/7 availability:

Website is available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It will be your hardest working employee, never getting sick, or taking a holiday. And you can rest assured that your website is always there for you – to answer your customers’ questions or to collect their feedback on your behalf.

f. Time-saving:

Prospective clients can learn about you and your business at any time of the day simply by visiting your website, so you won’t have to be present or involved with the process in any way. Your precious time can be saved and invested in other activities that can increase your profits and further enhance the scope of your business.

g. Cost -cutting:

You can save a lot of money cutting your costs on print ads, brochures, coupons, flyers, specials, newsletters or mailings. What’s more! Its always quick easy and extremely efficient to update real time information on your website; whereas regular renewals of printed materials turn out to be very expensive and time consuming. The fact optimized productivity at minimal cost is more valued in any business and it is possible only through world wide web.

Web services provide a standard way to implement a business function that can also be managed remotely. It employs an effective exchange of information and data-feeds between B2B and B2C portals, information warehouses, news providers, shopping portals like e bay and search engines like Google, MSN, yahoo etc.

Your website must work hard in today's competitive online environment — attracting visitors, providing a rich user experience and converting them into loyal customers.

3. What makes a site work successfully?

Its a hotly debated question – “What makes a website work well that will genuinely help your business and attract more customers?”

A well designed website can certainly lead to increased business. By following simple guide-lines, it is possible to create a good-looking website that will really give your business the best chance of being noticed.

For your online presence to really count, your brand needs to exude credibility, confidence and efficiency through your website. A well designed website can certainly leverage your business processes. One can achieve this by blending strong design and content, with seamless functionality, and expert support throughout - with time tested processes.

Web Designing is “a process of conceptualization, planning, modeling, and execution of electronic media delivery via Internet in the form of Markup language suitable for interpretation by Web browser and display as Graphical user interface” (ref- Wikipedia)

Web Design can have a powerful affect. Web Design is important and it must be right! The right design kindles in a website visitor the right perception of your business. It engenders confidence and trust in your business. Success online is vital to the overall strength of your business.

It’s essential that –

In an arena saturated with billions of web pages, it requires innovation and expertise, to represent your brand effectively.

Your site must be easy to navigate and simple to use. If your users and potential customers can’t find what they want, this will undermine your site’s performance, in relation to your business goals.

Your web site should, clearly and concisely, reflect your business, values and products, since your web site is now the first point of contact for a new user or potential customer.

A good and innovative design ensures that the site is memorable and encourages the viewer to explore beyond the home page.

The web functionality and programming should use only standard, compliant, valid coding and also provide an alternative programming, to ensure that your site is viewable in any Browser and at any Screen Resolution.

Most Web design and development companies possess skills in one or the other – rarely both. This is where ImagiNET Ventures web solutions differ, as we understand how to design a website that will most effectively present you, your business or organization, with your products and services.

4. What are the common mistakes of a website?

Lets face it! If visitors get lost or become confused while attempting to surf your website, they might hit the back button, and look for a more user- friendly website. People do not like to think, when it comes to finding their way around websites. Don’t make them tick. You need to plan your website from stage to stage, and make a difference between between a very poor website and a very good website.

Let us now see – what are the pitfalls inherent in designing and setting up a website? You may know some of them already, but by avoiding and correcting them, you can be sure to keep constant flow of visitors entering and re-entering into your portal! The list of most common errors is unending but invaluable for new designers, web developers and content writers – who need a list for their website spot check.

1.Site best viewed:

New designers usually use this “site best viewed” with a disclaimer statement regarding which web browser or screen resolution they designed their site, for best viewing. It does not impress the visitor. Instead, invest in skilfully designed website that renders well in multiple browsers, and in any screen resolution.

2.Shabby lay-out and glaring design:

Some sites are totally unbalanced in their lay-out and overloaded design. The designs do not match the page content and appears misplaced and misfit in the entire scene. Give your pages a pleasing appearance, with just the necessary facts and place your design out-lay with a professional touch. Always take screen shots of designs in different resolutions, before uploading the appropriate one.

3.Horizontal scrolling:

The horizontal scroll makes it extremely difficult to read the content on your site, and often your visitors will lose patience and leave. Check your website in a site resolution viewer. A professional website can be viewed without horizontal scrolling in, both, a smaller and larger screen resolution. User's find scrolling from the top to the bottom of your pages, more clear to view and easy to read.

4.Free Web Hosting:

This is a common web page mistake you definitely need to avoid. Often business owners claim that the business is "just starting”, and that is why they have not yet moved their site to a domain host. Do not use free web hosting if you want your business to be taken seriously. It reflects on your image and credibility.

To resolve this issue, you must choose and purchase a domain name if you, already, do not have one. You also need to choose a professional domain host. There is no getting around this one. If you want to run a successful online business, you absolutely must have a reliable domain host.

5.Appalling Images

Don’t allow your visitor view badly shaped or terribly cropped images and missing graphics files. Optimize your images, using the best height and width. Keep your files in the best formats - j peg for Photographs and gif for artwork.

6.Blaring and ghastly color schemes:

Avoid using ghastly and loud colors that does not match your website concept and mission. Although your text may be easy to read, overly-bright colors distracts and repels the reader away from your site's purpose. Your designs must reflect class and designer quality, with state-of-the-art designs and pleasantly eye-catching color schemes for your web pages.

7.Slow loading:

If your page does not download rapidly, visitors will quickly move on to find another site. Take action now to reduce the "weight" of your pages . Each image on your site must be correctly sized and optimized for web use. Keep your pages lean and fast for the visitor to move on quickly, with interest.

8.Spell check:

Always spell check the text , keeping it free of grammatical error, punctuations and spelling mistakes. Without spell check, the site looks amateurish and shabby.

9.Ineffective Text Content:

A major mistake is to fill the pages with long text, without any headings and sub-headings. Do not cram your web pages with loaded decorative words and hi-funda text. Readers do not have time to fill their heads with all details.

Make your text more effective. Keep your text simple, crisp and to-the-point. Use decorative words in the right context. Your language should spell clarity, consistency and coherence in content, style, structure and font. The pages should be easy to read and simple to understand, with a smooth flow. The fonts should be rightly used, with appropriate side-headings and the text need to be phrased in short paragraphs, giving a pleasing feel to the reader.

Your website must provide a clear message with a goal-oriented direction, setting you apart from your competitors. Your content should easily answer his question - “what's in it for me?” The reader must be able to identify with your write-up and find you as his 'partner' for addressing his solutions.

10. Absence of an Email Subscription Form:

This critical aspect is often neglected by most website owners. It is very important to have a lead generation for your website via Email subscription form, for optimal business returns. Having a mailing list gives you several advantages like maintaining a visitors list who allow you to contact them, build a relationship, and establish yourself as an expert for solving their problems.

11.Using a weak message 'join my newsletter':

Your content , design layout and solutions should be so user-friendly such that it compels the reader to subscribe your mailing list. Do not use a weak message like – “join my free newsletter”. The reader would wonder “Why?” and “If I subscribe, will you give me a bonus, or a free gift instantly, as soon as I join?” If your design and text work impresses the reader for availing your services, you would automatically get email subscriptions for a membership, from your visitors. It speaks on your credibility.

12.No Contact Information - Just giving your email id and the web address is not sufficient for your readers – who may be prospective clients. Keep your detailed contact information easy to find and easy to read. Inclusion of a site-map works wonders for your business.

13.Advertising – Advertisements provide huge revenue but it should be placed skilfully and with reference to the current times. Appropriate advertisements should be placed - reflecting the different verticals of your business. Do not overload your page with ads, especially the big flashy banners. Well placed, well designed ads are okay, if you don’t overload the page.

14. Prices –. Don’t waste your time, hoping you will get email inquiries on your prices. The moment a visitor sees your product or services, his prime question will be “what is the price of this item?” Do not keep the visitor guessing the price; it will give him an opportunity to jump into another website where the price is mentioned and you may end up losing a prospective customer. You need to include a price with the item description, if you sell something.

15.Under Construction - Avoid having a “closed – under construction” or “yet to open” website. Give your visitors atleast a single page of content, with a notice - when the whole site will be open.

16.Music: Include a soft and soothing music or that which is relevant to the content. Do not include music, if it is not needed. Music should not be out-of-control and keep the control buttons easy-to-use. Music can turn one's mind on but at the same time put your mood off, if it is not rightly timed, controlled and soft.

The list of common mistakes are innumerable. The above general tips gives you an idea of what to avoid and how to resolve. By keeping your website design in good shape and ensuring your web content writing is in good taste, you will find more people visiting and enjoying your website!
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Developing Documentation During System Development

Developing Documentation During System Development
by: Narain Balchandani

System documentation and user documentation are the two types of documents. System documentation is required for better understanding and maintenance of the application software. User documentation is designed to help the user operate the system. A good-quality document requires designing the documents, writing and editing the text, and testing them, and hence takes longer time for documentation. Lower-quality documentation can be produced faster. Nowadays online documentation is becoming more important compared to traditional paper-based manuals. Users are more familiar with paper-based documents and these are simpler to use. Although online documents require people to be familiar with additional software commands, searching for information is easier in online documents. These also enable the users to interact with the document.

There are mainly three types of user documentation: reference documents, procedure manuals and tutorials. Reference documents are used when the user needs to learn how to perform a specific function. Procedure manuals describe how to perform business tasks. Tutorials teach people how to use major components of the system.

Introduction

There are two types of documents.

System documentation is intended to help programmers and systems analysts understand the application software and enable them to build it or maintain it after the system is installed. System documentation is a by-product of the system analysis and design process, and is created as the project unfolds.

Each step and phase produce documents that are essential in understanding how the system is built or is to be built, and these documents are stored in the project binder(s).

User documentation (such as user’s manuals, training manuals and online help systems) is designed to help the user operate the system. Although most project teams expect users to have received training and read the user’s manuals before operating the system, unfortunately this is not always the case. It is more common today – especially in the case of commercial software packages for microcomputers – for users to begin the software without training or reading the user’s manual.

User documentation is often left until the end of the project, which is a dangerous strategy. Developing a good documentation takes longer than many people expect because it requires much more than simply writing a few pages.

Producing documentation requires designing the documents (whether paper or online), writing the text, editing them and testing them. For good-quality documentation, this process usually takes about 3 hours per paper page (single-spaced) for paper-based documentation or 2 hours per screen for online documentation.

Thus, a “simple” set of documentation such as a 20-page user’s manual and a set of 20 help screens take 100 hours. Of course, lower-quality documentation can be produced faster.

The time required to develop and test user documentation should be built into the project plan. Most organizations plan for documentation development to start once the interface design and program specifications are complete. The initial draft of documentation is usually scheduled for completion immediately after the unit tests are complete.

This reduces – but does not eliminate – the need for the documentation to be tested and revised before the acceptance tests is started.

Although paper-based manuals are still significant, online documentation is becoming more important. Paper-based documentation is simpler to use because it is more familiar to users, especially novices who have less computer experience; online documentation requires the users to learn one more set of commands. Paper-based documentation is also easier to flip through to gain a general understanding of its organization and topics, and can be used far away from the computer itself.

There are four key strengths of online documentation that all but guarantee that it will be the dominant format form for the next century. First, searching for information is often simpler (provided the help search index is well designed). The user can type in a variety of keywords to view information instantaneously, rather than having to search through the index or table of contents in a paper document. Second, the same information can be presented several times in many different formats, so that the user can find and read the information in the most informative way.

Third, online documentation enables the users to interact with the documentation. For example, it is possible to use links or “tool tips” (i.e., pop-up text) to explain unfamiliar terms, and programmers can write “show me” routines that demonstrate on the screen exactly what buttons to click and text to type. Finally, online documentation is significantly less expensive to distribute and keep up-to-date than paper documentation.

Types of Documentation

There are fundamentally three different types of user documentation: reference documents, procedure manuals and tutorials. Reference documents (also called the help system) are designed to be used when the user needs to learn how to perform a specific function (e.g., printing a monthly report, taking a customer order). Typically, people read reference information only after they have tried and failed to perform the function. Writing reference documentation requires special care because users are often impatient or frustrated when they begin to read them.

Procedure manuals describe how to perform business tasks (e.g., printing a monthly report, taking a customer order). Each item in the procedures manually guides the user through a task that requires several functions or steps in the system. Therefore, each entry is typically much longer than an entry in a reference document.

Tutorials teach people how to use major components of the system (e.g., an introduction to the basic operations of the system). Each entry in the tutorial is typically longer than the entities in procedure manuals and the entities are usually designed to be read in sequence, whereas entries in reference documents and procedure manuals are designed to be read individually.

Regardless of the type of user documentation, the overall process for developing it is similar to the process of developing interfaces. The developer first designs the general structure for the documentation and then develops the individual components within it.

Documentation and managing the documentation in company’s Intranet are critical for a company, and the resource spent on it is worthwhile. For more info on these topics and training refer to Business Analysis & Data Modeling Training Bangalore
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Integrated Approach to Internet Strategy for Business

Integrated Approach to Internet Strategy for Business
by: Ajay Prasad

Technology and the Internet have transformed business in ways that very few people could have predicted years ago. Increasingly the internet is being used as a cost effective solution for many of the business operations. An internet business strategy is basically a plan that how you want to manage your online presence for your business.

Adopting an integrated approach in devising a successfully internet strategy to benefit your business, a well planned web presence can increase the market awareness and branding of your business that brings you tangible results.

Just as you have a strategic plan to grow your business, you need to develop an internet marketing plan that integrates the most effective online strategies for increasing website traffic and converting visitors into buyers.

An internet strategy for any business includes website planning, development, marketing and management. Planning ensures that your content targets the right type of customers. For that you have to customize your web plan to fit your company rather than following any well-written formula. Even so, there are standard components you have to follow them such as market analysis, strategy, any specific development plan, marketing and most importantly expense budget.

1. Market research- It is a fundamental part of any business strategy. This normally includes a target market analysis, market research and a market forecast.

2. Website strategy- This includes your mission and objective of starting an internet business, web development and marketing strategy.

3. Specific development plan- Any web plan is measured by the result it produces. Therefore, implementation of your plan is more important than brilliant ideas. Start taking action on the tasks that you have created during the planning stage.

4. Identify your organization goals. Every company has a set of tangible and intangible goals and identifying yours will help you better focus on it and implement them in time.

5. Online marketing- Getting the most out of the online marketing channels requires specialized techniques like search engine optimization, pay per click marketing, social media optimization, e-mail marketing and many more to reach out to your customers.

6. Expense budget- This includes details to track expenses month by month and follow up with your plan vs. actual analysis.

7. Returns (ROI) - Business is driven by ROI and it is only natural that the online marketing efforts need to lead into a positive ROI determined by the key performance indicators.

8. Survey- Get feedback from website visitors regarding what bought them to you or how their experience has been on your website.

The Internet presents a wide range of marketing and communication opportunities for every business. Making those opportunities a reality requires careful planning, thoughtful assessment and directed focus.

Web design is very important to search engines. Messy, over-complicated or bad code give the search engine spiders a hard time crawling your pages. If the spiders/crawlers can't crawl your pages properly and retrieve all the data they need, the search engines can't rank them properly.

There are more effective methods of attracting your customers to your website than search engine listings. PPC is great for targeting potential leads in every phase of the buying cycle and it is measurable. Studies show that regular contact with customers helps to maintain your relationship with them and generates referral business.

Many companies consider web advertising a viable technique to benefit your online business. The ability to target has been one of the main things that have attracted people to the internet for advertising. You can target big to very small websites that give real, vertical information and at the same time, it is also interactive.

The scope for business on the Internet is fantastic-there is so much potential there and all you have to do is have an integrated strategy or plan to make it happen.
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