Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Avoid the risk: set up an eCommerce store

As the Internet has grown in acceptance, the risk pendulum has been swinging towards the traditional retailer.

The traditional retailer will probably have had to sign a long term lease on an expensive store, even though more and more people are shopping online. The traditional retailer will have to spend large amounts of money if they wish to refurbish their store. The traditional retailer will have to buy at least enough stock so that their store does not appear empty. If the traditional retailer wants a recognised name, they will have to pay even more for a franchise.

The setup costs of an eCommerce store, on the other hand, are a fraction of this. It may not be as eye catching, but the headlines should be reporting the risks of not opening an eCommerce store.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The reality of the web

In the days of the dot com bubble, there was an abundance of VCs telling potential entrepreneurs that they needed to spend large amounts of money if they wanted to suceed. They kept inflating things until the inevitable burst happened. Many of the businesses that did survive were those that had ignored the VCs and stuck to good old fashioned business plans.

While this new technology proved itself up to the task, many business people became wary of the internet and the associated hype. Cynicism almost became fashionable.

To get beyond both the hype and the cynicism, it is worth looking at a recent report by the Office for National Statistics. The report has found that for every 10% of employees in manufacturing who are IT enabled, productivity jumped by 2.1%.

Interestingly, it also found that for every 10% of employees in manufacturing who have net access, productivity jumped by 2.9%.

Another survey by Netcraft showed that the web grew by more that 17 million sites, exceeding the 16 million sites last seen at the height of the boom.

While it is easy to follow the post-dot com fashion for cynicism, the reality is that the internet is growing and those companies that are using the technology wisely are benefitting.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Digital means more art and less science

150 years ago, new discoveries in optics and chemistry led to a new technology: photography. Its ability to record accurately was seen by many as a purely scientific and mechanical process.

Yet, even the early photographers developed techniques that resulted in more than mechanical production, for example by producing images that were slghtly blurred. Later, photographers endeavoured to produce images that showed their perception of a scene.

The digital world has radically changed photography. While various digital hoaxes have disproved the saying that 'the camera never lies', the ability to remaster an image has allowed the photographer to use the techniques available to the artist. In the same way that the painter would alter their image to communicate a message, modern technology allows the photographer to do the same.

Although digital technology may mean that a photograph can not be relied upon as an exact scientific record, it also allows the photographer to use compositional creativity that was not available before. Digital technology may have reduced the exact mechanical science in photography; at the same time it has increased the art.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

What is the point?

For the new business person starting a venture, there is a long list of tasks to be completed before getting started: setting up the new company, finding an accountant, locating premises, obtaining the right equipment and so on. These days, most new businesses will include a web site on this list and we are seeing more and more entrepreneurs coming to us with web site development as part of their business plan.

Yet for a web site to be effective, the following question needs to be asked: what is the point?

Depending upon the business, the web site may serve many different purposes. For a recruitment company, the main function of the web site may be to attract new candidates whilst an eCommerce site would be looking to generate sales. Before starting the web site design, it is essential to consider the main purpose of the site.

Going through this analysis will result in a web site that will work more effectively for the business.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Is DIY coming to an end?

A recent survey found that approximately 90% of men would prefer to call in the professionals, rather than attempting do-it-yourself (DIY) decorating. In fact, only 20% said the finish acheived was as good as if they had called in a professional.

We have noticed a similar trend in the web design field. As the over ambitious decorater has realised that buying a couple of tools does not make up for years of experience, most companies now understand that they can not produce a DIY web site that does justice to their business. After all, the web site is often the first impression that somebody will have of a company.

Another survey found that 200,000 people were seriously injured in the UK doing DIY in 1999. It would be interesting to know how many organisations are injuring their business with a home made web site.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Web Designers need to be more "high touch"

While working out in Californa during the .com boom, I came across an excellent book by John Naisbitt: "high tech, high touch". Five years later, his analysis of the way "high tech" issues will impact the "high touch" aspects of our lives remains as relevant as ever.

As an Internet Specialist, high tech is very much part of my life. What never ceases to amaze me is how poor many Web Specialists are at what Naisbitt describes as "high touch".

This concept is equally important in the business world. While the application of technology is the service that we provide, the quality of service is measured by by the "high touch" issues - ensuring that a client feels that they are invaluable, making sure that a client is kept upto date with how their work is progressing and building a relationship so that a business person knows that they have a partner that they can trust.

In our field, the "high tech" is obviously important. However, the "high touch" is essential.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Linux, DreamWeaver and Apple Win Love/Hate War

We all know that there are millions of people who would happily spend an evening declaring their love for anything that is manufactured by Apple with a passion that has not been seen since the end of the cold war. And similarly Microsoft can cause passions to arise that are not normally found in Seattle. The problem is: how do you measure these emotions?

In the noughties, the answer has to come from Google. To test the amount of love and hate for a subject, I ran a Google search as follows:

love Linux:8,900,000

hate Linux:1,900,000


love Dreamweaver:533,000

hate Dreamweaver:119,000


love Apple:12,700,000

hate Apple:3,030,000


love FrontPage:1,160,000

hate FrontPage:276,000


love Windows:14,400,000

hate Windows:3,450,000


love Microsoft:9,150,000

hate Microsoft:2,500,000


love Photoshop:3,190,000

hate Photoshop:1,240,000


Whilst many would be astonished at 9,150,000 hits for "love Microsoft", it should be pointed out that the first hit was actually refering to the "Love Bug" virus!

And the results show that Linux is the winner of the "love/hate" battle, followed by Dreamweaver and Apple.

So, having chosen Linux for our hosting and DreamWeaver and Apple for web design, we appear to be on the right side. While Photoshop is an excellent tool, its initial learning curve is likely to have pushed it down the table.