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Knowledge of web costs vital

BRINGING potential clients up to speed on the benefits and applications of the Internet and web sites is a major challenge for the State’s web development industry.

According to Internet Business Corporation, managing director Richard Keeves, education is the key. Prospective clients need to be made aware of the costs of establishing a web site and the functionality of the web site, so that it delivers real value in relation to the client’s business.

Mr Keeves believes the dot.com crash made businesses re-evaluate their presence on the Internet in order to ensure that their web site will bring a return on the initial investment and running costs of the web site.

“(Web developers) have to make sure that the business world realises that online technology is still valuable to a business, despite the apparent failure of many dot.com businesses,” Mr Keeves said.

Many businesses do not understand that developing a functional web site that returns value for money can involve considerable development time and may even involve the business having to invest in new hardware and software.

Another catch for business is that developing a web site is not a one-off cost, and they require ongoing maintenance and development.

Mr Keeves considers the business functionality of a web site to be one of the most important factors when establishing a site. He believes that web sites need to focus on the needs and wants of customer groups, and how these needs and wants can be catered for more effectively and efficiently online.

“Organisations are focusing on using the web to add value to their business by becoming more efficient, cutting costs and saving money,” he said.

“IBC’s focus has always been to transform organisations to make their business work online.

“Using online technology makes sense, but not for every type of business.”

Web sites have evolved significantly over the past few years, having developed from static, purely informative sites that relayed a business’s services and contact details, to web sites that provide a portal for customer service, sales, procurement of supplies and tracking and management of all online orders and processes.

Method managing director Stephen Langsford believes that web sites are now considered an accepted and fundamental channel for customer service, and that they provide for interaction with suppliers and company staff. According to Mr Langsford all major business applications will increasingly be accessible via browser interface and that this is leading to organisations turning their attention to integrating their systems and putting in place supporting IT infrastructure.

“We are seeing significant demand by larger corporations and government agencies to put in place industrial strength IT architecture to support e-business,” he said.

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