What is e-business?

Broadly speaking, the term "e-business" refers to using the Internet for doing business. • • Are you doing e-business? Is your business doing e-business?

Here's a checklist to find out. If you can say yes to any of these, then you are doing ebusiness. • • • • We communicate with customers, clients or suppliers via email. We send emails to other businesses to order products and services. We sell our products or services via our website. We use the Web to find information, such as prices, phone numbers, reviews of products. We use the Web for research, such as the latest industry trends. We use our website to provide information about our products and services. We use our website as a means of managing the information in our business. We use the Internet for online banking and paying our bills using BPAY.

• • • • • No level of e-business is necessarily better than any other level. Some businesses don't need a website but deal all day with other businesses and customers online via email and an e-marketplace (see the Improving section for more detail). Other businesses have a website that helps them sell their products all around the world. It's up to each business to determine what level of e-business is right for them. The Planning section of the ebusiness guide helps with this decision-making. Difference between e-business and e-commerce • • • • • The term e-commerce has a narrower meaning than e-business. It refers to using the Internet to order and pay for products or services. So ecommerce is a sub-set of e-business. E-commerce happens when a consumer orders a product from a business and pays for it either when they receive the product or directly online at the time of ordering. It happens when a business pays another business via its website for supplies. E-commerce refers specifically to the paying for goods and services, whereas ebusiness covers the full range of business activities that can happen or be assisted via email or the Web.


The Internet
• • The Internet is a world-wide communications system that connects computers and networks of computers to each other. It has sets of technical rules which govern how information is sent and received within the system. The Internet (or Net) had its origins in a communications project called ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) which was established in 1969 by the U.S. Department of Defence. Its aim was to ensure that those businesses engaged in defence-related research could share data with each other securely via a robust communications network. It was devised to ensure that should one or more link in the network go down then the network as a whole would still survive and function. The fact that the network's more famous offspring, the Internet, does not universally crash, despite constant instances of hacking and unleashing of viruses, is testament to the foresight and ingenuity of its inventors. It was not long before researchers and academics outside the defence area began using ARPANET to communicate with each other through email and to transfer computer files from one computer to another. This was a great advance on having to mail or carry disks or computer program cards in order to share programs and data. The Internet itself emerged in the early 1980s when the set of transmission control protocols (TCP) that had been devised for ARPANET were extended to provide users with more functionality. These were called Internet protocols (IP). The new functionality and the set of rules that governed it was, and still is, labelled TCP/IP. This was a significant development and meant that far more businesses could join the world-wide network of computers that constituted the Internet.

The World Wide Web

The World Wide Web (WWW or the Web) is the collective term given to all the documents and data residing on the Internet that can be accessed using a browser such as Netscape™ or Internet Explorer™. The Web is a sub-set of the Internet. There are other sub-sets in widespread use on the Internet such as "ftp" (file transfer protocol) and the "irc" - (Internet relay chat) protocol. In 1989 a group of scientists, led by Tim Berners-Lee, at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics in Geneva, Switzerland (the CERN team) began working on a new branch of Internet protocols that offered a new way of linking documents, files and addressing on the Internet. Berners-Lee called the project, World Wide Web (the Web). They developed a HyperText Transfer Protocol which is mostly referred to by its initials, http - the beginning of every website address. The protocol is a set of rules that enable every document on the Internet to be connected to every other document via a hyperlink, a link that the author can


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place anywhere in the document. The link may enable a user to jump to another document within the same website or to a totally different document or website. A website is a set of interlinked files containing words, images, video and sound and usually links to other websites, all of which have been coded so that computers using http can find the sites and see their content. People with appropriate software, typically "browsers", can interact with whatever activities are available, such as selecting images to print or selecting and paying for goods and services. A crucial characteristic of this protocol is that it is "stateless" so that each access, by each user, is entirely independent of prior accesses. As a stateless protocol, http is perfect for viewing static objects, not changed by a user's interaction. With the hypertext transfer protocol established, it was then necessary to construct a computer language for creating documents that used the hyperlink function. The language devised to create these web documents with their hyperlinks was called HyperText Markup Language (HTML). The language provides the means by which programmers not only can create hyperlinks to other documents but can specify such things as what text, images, sound and video are displayed on the screen and their layout, the various font types and sizes to be used and colour schemes

A website is a set of interlinked words, images, video and sound, and usually with links to other websites. Each piece of interlinked content is coded by web developers so that people using a browser, such as Internet Explorer™ or Netscape™, can find the website and see its contents, select images to print or select and pay for products and services. Here are some of the defining features of the Web and websites that make it such a powerful tool. A website... • • • • • • can be used to inform, promote, market, entertain, educate and train, and buy and sell goods and services can contain text, images, animations, diagrams, illustrations, maps, video and sound, all of which can be manipulated, edited, copied, stored and audited at any time is capable of being accessed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, or whenever users are interested in "visiting" it knows no borders - it is global can be highly interactive, allowing the user not merely to see or hear information but to interact with it and other users via email, discussion groups and various types of forums can be constructed to allow authors to personalise it so that different users see only those aspects of the site that they want to see


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does not know a person's race, colour, creed, socio-economic status or cultural background can provide links to other websites at the click of a mouse button, thereby creating a reservoir of inter-connected information can be used by business and consumers to order and distribute goods and services can enable the secure exchange of money for goods and services.

What are the benefits?
A number of potential benefits of e-business that organizations may experience are : • • • • • • • • • • Create cost-savings and operational efficiencies Create additional revenue Reach more customers and markets Improve marketing and promotions Meet the needs and expectations of customers and suppliers Concentrate on the things that matter Make it easier for people to do business with you The cost of not being there Play on a level playing field Help meet business goals

Benefits - Create cost-savings and operational efficiencies
Some businesses make a great deal of money from their websites through greatly increased sales and uptake of services. Many more benefit from the ability of an ebusiness plan, properly thought out and implemented, to minimise day-to-day costs and save staff time. Many companies still rely on purchasing and back-office systems that revolve around the fax machine, telephone, or even handwritten forms. Companies that have adopted ebusiness are reaping the advantages that come from replacing manual processes with automated, digital systems that provide fast, accurate, customer-centric experiences. This can lead to a range of efficiencies such as getting paid faster. Cost saving checklist Use this checklist to identify the cost-saving centres and areas of efficiency gains that effective use of email and a carefully planned website can offer:  Providing information - reduce staff time on the telephone with customers and suppliers by referring them to the website - also some telephone enquirers will be better informed as a result of referring to the site and therefore will take less time.  Bookings and orders - data entered into an online form with appropriate links into the organisation's database accounting system bypasses staff, freeing them to market and sell more tickets, memberships etc.


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Publishing/printing - reduce cost of outsourcing to printers and graphic designers for brochures, research, concert programmes. Photocopying - reduce through-put and need for more and/or larger photocopiers. Faxing -reduce cost and time involved in re-keying data and reduce errors in interpretation of poor quality originals, eg handwritten forms and poor quality faxes. Postage and handling - reduce expense and time. Paper - reduce the overall paper consumption and therefore cost. Processing time - streamline processing of forms, eg online membership applications and orders. Account management - an e-commerce solution reduces processing of accounts, reconciliation, banking and can improve cash-flow. Communication and meeting costs - using email groups can reduce phone calls, time consumed in arranging meetings, number of face-to-face meetings, cost of getting people to meetings

Benefits - Create additional revenue
In the early days of the Web, some people sold websites to businesses promising they would generate large revenues from online sales. That kind of over-sell back-fired, sometimes leading to extreme scepticism and an unwillingness to use the Internet for business at all. Of course, the reality of the potential of websites to provide another source of revenue lies somewhere in the middle. For some, their website will not generate income directly, rather it supports their offline activities and contributes to meeting business goals and financial targets. Others reap considerable additional revenue from their website via selling information, products or services online. Some businesses are fortunate because they provide information, goods and services that users seem very willing to purchase online, such as travel, financial services, books, CDs, entertainment, and many items traditionally bought through mail-order catalogues. The Internet has provided many businesses with a whole new revenue stream at relatively low cost.

Benefits - Reach more customers and markets
One of the great benefits of the Web is that it can help broaden your customer base at a relatively low cost. As more and more people get access to the Internet and become confident Web users, the potential to expand customer-bases will increase proportionally. For figures on how many Australians are currently using the Internet, click on this link to DCITA's report Current State of Effective use of email and an appropriately designed and promoted website can attract new customers and open new markets for products and services by providing:  affordable access to customers the world over  a means by which to communicate with people for whom English is not their native language  access to your products and services for people with a disability who may not have had access to them when distributed by traditional means - eg a shop-front.


A number of online market places have been created in Australia and elsewhere that match up suppliers and buyers. They work by creating a website featuring a common catalogue to which suppliers add their products, and from which buyers can search and select the best product. Joining an appropriate market place (often called e-marketplaces) as a supplier can provide cheap access to many more buyers than an average small business could hope to reach on its own.

Benefits - Improve marketing and promotions
A well-designed and maintained website can be a highly effective promotional tool. This is not to say that promoting a business on the Web is better or more effective than traditional forms of promotion. It is simply another promotional tool that should complement other forms of promotion. A website provides some unique promotional potential because:  it is visible to potential customers and suppliers 24 hours a day, seven days a week  it does not know about borders and oceans so it is visible to potential customers wherever they are in the world  a great deal more information can be provided on a website than on a brochure  products can be illustrated from multiple angles and animations can be used, allowing the user to turn an image of the product around, up and down, giving a better understanding of its advantages it is very easy to collate and analyse information about those visiting and buying from the site and equally easy to change the promotional aspects to maximise their impact on sales.

Benefits - Meet the needs and expectations of customers and suppliers
Increasingly today, the terms "available" and "accessible" to a business mean twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week access to information, products and services. Customers, suppliers and interested parties are less and less satisfied with being restricted to the traditional opening hours of business and will not be impressed if they cannot do such things as order items, book tickets or discover information for themselves in the comfort of their own homes and offices when it suits them. The expectations of online audiences will not diminish over time - they will only increase. For example, the increasing ability to provide video and sound online at premium quality and speed is likely to force many businesses into presenting information in multimedia format on their websites. This will raise the bar in terms of delivery methodology, content, structure and quality of online material. To fail to be online or to fail to provide a website that is user-friendly, informative, and up-to-date in every respect is to risk alienating web-enabled customers and suppliers and thereby lose their confidence and business

Benefits - Concentrate on the things that matter


One of the most important consequences of using the Internet in your business is that it can reduce the time staff spend doing administrative tasks, freeing them up to concentrate on the things that really matter - servicing customers and increasing sales. Whether the things that matter to you are promoting the business, generating repeat business, managing customers and suppliers, chasing leads, or undertaking professional development, your e-business plan should minimise wasted time doing unproductive tasks. By shifting the emphasis of the role of staff from processing data and undertaking routine administrative work, to providing quality of service, seeking new customers and selling more products, a business is likely to make a fundamental improvement in staff satisfaction and sales figures.

Benefits - Make it easier for people to do business with you
Your website is an additional and unique tool for facilitating business. An effective use of email and a website can make it easier for customers, visitors, suppliers, distributors or associates to do business with you. It will be easier for people to do business with you if you have a website that:  is quick and easy to navigate  is customer-focussed  offers abundant relevant information - eg contact details  provides numerous opportunities for two-way communication  provides a variety of convenient ways of ordering and paying for information, products and services. Your website and email address form another shop-front, helpdesk, outlet, channel, advertisement and contact point, through which you make your information, products and services available twenty four hours a day, seven days a week to the whole world. The success of the website as a business tool will ultimately depend on the appropriateness of its design, promotion and on-going maintenance and the extent to which the business embraces it. It will also rely on the imagination of staff in providing content and features on the site that will entice users and make it easy for them to do business with you.

Benefits -The cost of not being there
The "cost" of not having a credible website or using email effectively can be measured in terms of lost opportunities to create more revenue and cut costs. Some of the costs of not being there (online) include:  loss of customers to competitors who do have a good website and email contact with customers  loss of potential revenue from online sales or uptake of services  mounting costs associated with existing inefficient office practices that an effective e-business plan could minimise  mounting costs associated with existing inefficient supply-chain management  loss of credibility as an innovative, forward-thinking business.


Benefits - Play on a level playing field
The street location of a business, or the size and design of the building it is in, gives the physical visitor an immediate impression of the stature of the business. For some customers and clients, this first impression of company size is an important factor in determining whether they will even walk in the front door. However, the Web is a great leveller because there is no main shopping street or business address or hierarchy of web addresses on the Internet. Even when the Web visitor has entered a company's website, they cannot easily tell how big the business is at first glance. Without being deceptive, a small business can appear to be as large as any of its larger competitors, and large companies can appear to be as small as the corner shop. Website front doors are all on the same street and are the same size on the Web. This levelling effect can help neutralise any prejudices potential customers, clients or suppliers might have about the size of the company they prefer to deal with.

Benefits - Help meet business goals
Businesses the world over develop business plans to provide direction for their business activities. Business plans generally cover areas such as: sales targets, marketing plans, staffing, competitor analysis, research and development and budgets. The Internet can be used to help businesses research their business plans and as a tool for achieving the aims of the plan. The Web provides a relatively cheap means of investigating competitors, testing out the market, entering new markets and seeking new strategic partners. A company's website can contribute to achieving increased sales and can be used to improve the management of relations with customers. There are numerous ways in which a website and clever use of email can help a company meet its business goals.


Most businesses would not adopt a new business strategy, such as opening up a new office or shop, without first doing some very careful planning. Planning helps to ensure that the precious time, money and energy invested in any new strategy are not wasted. Without good plans new ventures can easily go wrong, due to such things as poor timing, unreasonable expectations or even adopting the wrong approach in the first place. Good planning maximises the benefits to a business of a new or expanded business venture and reduces the risk of things going wrong. This section explains how to go about the planning process, what your e-business plan should contain, the opportunities and challenges, the various levels of e-business and how to assess which one suits your business. For example, is email all you will ever need or should you be considering selling your products or services online? By working through these sections you will be ready to write the actual plan - a template plan is provided to download and use. Before commencing your planning, you might like to contact one of the e-business advisors in your area listed under the who can help section and ask for some advice.  How to plan  Researching the opportunities  Key planning issues to consider  What level of e-business is right for you?  Writing your e-business plan

Planning - How to plan
The planning process needs to be managed well and involve the people who hold important roles in the business - or who provide important business advice to the business. For some very small businesses, the owner/operator may be the sole person to develop the e-business plan. But whether it is developed by one person or a team, the goal is to produce an e-business plan document and to implement a practical schedule for reviewing and updating it. Managing the planning process is not difficult, but it does require a disciplined approach. What to do The person responsible for delivering the plan should establish:  who should be involved in the process - eg micro-businesses might have the owner and the accountant, larger organisations may have people from management, accounts, marketing, sales, technical, operations and possibly external advisors  the responsibilities of the planning team  what the plan is to include  what background research is required in order to produce the plan  the time-frame for delivering the plan  an internal communications plan to keep everyone informed about the plan  when and how the plan will be reviewed and updated The other sections in Planning will help you identify what you need to know and provide important information and resources on which to base your e-business plan. 9

Planning - Researching the opportunities
There are many ways the Internet can be used to help a business conduct its day-to-day business. When developing an e-business plan be sure you know what the possibilities are for your business so they can be incorporated into your planning. Below are a number of day-to-day business activities that can be improved by using the Internet. It is suggested you explore each one to see whether it has possibilities for your business, whether it should be incorporated into your e-business plan, and if so, to what extent. Choose one of these topics  Banking  Communications  Customer relationship management  Distribution and logistics  Exporting  Marketing and promotion  Purchasing office supplies  Managing supply-chains  Research and development  Staff training  Doing business with government

Planning - Researching the opportunities - Banking
Almost all banks and financial institutions offer access to some of their services via the Internet. Once you have a user name and PIN (personal identification number), you can do banking from anywhere, any time of the day or night. Internet banking is using the bank's Internet site to do your banking. Note: don't confuse Internet banking with ecommerce, which is about selling products and services via your own website or email. The possible ways in which you might use the Internet for banking include:  paying bills  paying wages  transferring money between your accounts  obtaining account balances  researching interest rates and special products available to you. The possible benefits for businesses include:  saving time physically going to a bank and standing in a queue  doing banking out of hours, and from wherever is convenient to you - as long as you have a computer connected to the Internet you can do Internet banking  obtaining information, such as account balances, instantly when you want it  managing your various accounts more easily  managing the payment of invoices more easily.

What to do


Contact your bank, or look on the Internet for their website, and find out:  what Internet banking facilities they offer  what their claims are about the benefits it will have for your business  what you need to do to use them - eg what computer equipment and software are required  what help is available in using the system  if there are any charges and what they are  what their security measures are.

Planning - Researching the opportunities - Communications
The Internet is a great tool for communicating with customers, clients, suppliers, distributors, staff, stakeholders and government agencies. Communication is a two-way exercise and the Internet provides many opportunities not just for two-way dialogue but even dialogue between multiple parties, all at the same time. The various ways you might use the Internet to help communicate include:  receiving orders and ordering supplies  receiving requests for information and providing information via email or your website  e-newsletters - sending out a newsletter by email, either in the body of the email or attached to it as a document the user can print out  email alerts - get users' permission to send them emails reminding them of pending subscription or licence renewals or informing them of special deals  inviting users of the website to contact you or join a discussion group on your website  Internet conferencing - you can conduct online video-conferences with staff or clients using Internet technology  Internet phone - use your Internet connection as your telephone line - there is an interesting article at http://www.crt.net.au/etopics/voip.htm which addresses this topic.

What to do
To determine the most effective and cost-efficient Internet communication tool undertake the following:  identify your target audience - the most important people you want to communicate with  research their preference for the means of communicating - eg ask your customers if they would like to receive email alerts and if they would like to be able to lodge orders via email  identify the average technical capacity they have for using email, websites, Internet conferencing etc - eg the speed of their computer and connection to the Internet  identify your target audience's average level of Internet experience  do a simple cost/benefit analysis on the preferred means of communication to assess whether it is viable for your business - eg compare the costs of posting out


promotional newsletters with the cost of using email, and assess the relative benefits.

Planning - Researching the opportunities - Customer relationship management
Customer relationship management (CRM) is important to most businesses and many are using the Internet as a tool to help with CRM. A website can be established such that whenever a customer accesses it or sends an email to the business via the website, software tracks and records the user's pathway through the site, records what pages they looked at, what information they downloaded and the topic of any email they might have sent - eg requesting further information or booking a ticket. Sales staff and others can also access the same website, usually through a password-restricted section, and record daily activity with customers and clients. All this information can be stored in a central database and cross-referenced so that reports can be generated at any time providing information such as customer lists, their individual preferences, the last time there was communication between you and them and what it was about (eg an order, enquiry). This information-gathering and reporting capacity can be used to personalise communication with customers, and enable you to alert them to subscription renewals, promote specials or inform them of new services and products, all in a timely and relevant way. On the other hand, using the Internet to manage relationships with customers and clients can be as simple as keeping a list of email addresses and noting in your diary when you next need to email out a newsletter. Some people are concerned that using the Internet to manage relationships with customers will take away the personal touch which is so important for most businesses. But using the Internet for CRM helps automate the process of managing your dealings with customers, freeing up time to spend with them face-to-face and on the telephone. In fact, using your website as a CRM tool can improve the personal touch with your customers.

What to do
To determine the most effective and cost-efficient way to use the Internet to manage your relationship with customers and clients, undertake the following:  identify who in your business is involved directly with customers  brain-storm with the team what customer relationships need managing and what the benefits would be of improving them  research what your customers' preferences are - eg ask your customers if they would like to receive email alerts  research the ways in which the Internet can assist with customer relationship management and what off-the-shelf solutions are available or, if you have a web developer, what they can offer  identify the average technical capacity customers have for using email, and websites - eg the speed of their computer and connection to the Internet  identify how experienced on average your target audience is using the Internet and whether they are likely to use your website or email to do business with you


do a cost/benefit analysis on the preferred customer relations management solution - ie determine the value of the expected benefits of improving customer relationships, determine the various costs of the solution required to meet those expectations, then assess whether the value of the benefits outweighs the costs.

Planning - Researching the opportunities - Distribution and logistics
Delivering products to distributors or customers when and how they expect and managing the logistics of the delivery is a vital part of many businesses. A website can be used by the sender (the owner of the website) and the receiver (the customer) to:  track the whereabouts of a parcel and make the information available to customers - eg FedEx  record and report on shipping and account details  keep records of stock and inventory and then control what customers are able to buy as well as manage their expectation of delivery time and date  automatically send re-stocking orders to suppliers when inventory reaches a predetermined minimum level  promote the sale of premium delivery services and insurance deals  store and distribute, via the Internet, products or services such as documents, games, tickets and information.

What to do
To determine the most effective and cost-efficient way to use the Internet to manage the distribution of products and services, and the logistics of stock and inventory control, undertake the following: For products and services that can be ordered but not delivered over the Internet consider the following.  Ask your customers if they want more information about availability of products and services, delivery times and method of delivery - eg an email telling them that the product they have purchased has been despatched and confirming the time and place of delivery.  Determine if the updating procedure need only be a simple exercise or whether it requires a sophisticated solution. A simple solution would be one whereby at a given time (eg every Friday) one staff member accessed the website and updated the product details. This would typically apply where there are few products, their price does not change often and availability is not a problem. At the other end of the scale is an automated system, suitable for businesses that have hundreds of product items and where prices and availability are variable. For businesses where this is the case, it may prove cost-effective to move the whole stock and inventory system online, whereby staff, distributors, suppliers and customers all interact with the one inventory and stock control system that resides in the website (ie there is no stock and inventory system on a hard disk in the office, it is all on the website). This complete solution is particularly appropriate for businesses where having one database of products online and one offline


would be inefficient and where the sheer size of the product listing makes updating the website time-consuming, difficult to coordinate and where quality control would be at risk.  Investigate with your staff, distributors and suppliers if there is a cost-benefit in using the Internet to gain more information about, and control over, customer orders, stock levels, and availability - eg would the likely cost of incorporating distribution and logistic controls into a website be justified in terms of such things as improving customer relationships and minimising lost sales due to being out of stock. For products and services that can be ordered AND delivered over the Internet consider the following.  Determine how often the listing of the products or services on the website, along with their description and costs, would need to be updated and how many products will be offered.  Investigate whether revenue from online sales will be greater than the cost of providing this ordering and delivery system.

Planning - Researching the opportunities - Exporting
The Internet is a great tool for getting your products, services or message out to the rest of the world. The Web connects your sales counter or reception desk to the whole world. Just consider: anyone with Internet access, anywhere in the world and at any time of the day or night, can access your website to read about your products and services, enquire about them and maybe order and pay for them. Distributors and agents who might be looking around the world for appropriate products to add to their catalogues, or businesses looking for strategic partners in other parts of the world, might also find you if you have a presence on the Web. You can use the Internet to do the same thing - look for customers, distributors, business advisors and strategic partners anywhere in the world. The Australian Trade Commission, or Austrade, is the Australian Government's main export and international business facilitation agency. Austrade helps Australian companies reduce time, cost and risk involved in selecting, entering and developing international markets. Austrade has a great deal of information on their website about using the Internet as a means of promoting a business overseas. They suggest that a website is good for conducting business overseas because it allows you to:  make contact with potential overseas customers without leaving home  reach overseas customers in cost-effective ways  project the impression of a professional organisation of substance  convey that your business is 'modern' and uses new technology  avoid problems with time differences by having 24-hour contact  introduce and promote new products  demonstrate products using technical data, drawings  sell products direct to customers.

What to do

Access the these areas of Austrade's website because they are of particular importance to planning how you might be able to use the Web to help you export.  Undertake one of Austrade's e-business online courses - The free online courses explain how to use email, electronic marketplaces, portals and online collaboration tools effectively in order to maximise export potential. They are designed for businesses that already export or who are planning to do so. Click here to read more about the courses and to register.  Online Export capability tool - If you are thinking about doing business overseas for the first time, but are unsure whether your organisation has the "capability" to do so, try this survey to see if you have the capability: http://www.austrade.gov.au/australia/layout/0,,0_S2-1_2zh-2_-3_PWB175493904_-5_-6_-7_,00.html  Read the Latest research conducted by Austrade and the University of New South Wales about the impact of e-commerce on export business. The report provides a wealth of information on the latest developments in e-commerce for export business based on the experiences of the 340 Australian exporters surveyed: http://www.austrade.gov.au/ecommercereport  Have a look at how other Australian companies are using the Internet as a tool for exporting by exploring Austrade's suppliers database. It currently lists 8,500 Australian companies. Find companies in your industry sector and see what they are offering. http://www.austrade.gov.au/australia/layout/0,,0_S21_CLNTXID0030-2_-3_-4_-5_-6_-7_,00.html

Planning - Researching the opportunities - Marketing and promotion
Marketing is making products and services available to buyers in a planned way which encourages people to buy more of them. Marketing usually involves establishing an image for a business (eg a logo) and promoting the business through advertising and any other means that makes consumers aware of the company and keen to buy its products and services. Since the mid-1990s the Internet has become an important tool for marketing and promoting companies. This is because so many Australians now shop around for products and services on the Internet and increasingly order and buy products and services on the Internet. In fact, at September 2002, 18% of people aged 16 or over who used the Internet had purchased goods or services online in the previous six months. Not only is this an important marketing tool but It can also be a relatively cheap one for any business.

What to do
Look at your current marketing plan, or if you don't have one, list the ways in which you currently market and promote your business, and then consider where and how the Internet might help. The possible areas where a website, and the use of email, could add value include:  establishing and reinforcing the company's image and name  securing new markets and new customers 15

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helping to keep existing customers by providing them with additional help and information via the website and emails meeting many of your customer's expectations that they can research, order, book or buy online whenever it suits them creating more opportunities for promoting the business saving time and money when doing traditional promotional activities - eg emailing a newsletter is much cheaper than mailing it by post monitoring customer behaviour to see what they buy and what their preferences are.

Planning - Researching the opportunities - Purchasing office supplies
Buying products and services that are required to run an office, shop, farm or business is part of day-to-day business life. Much of what businesses require in the way of office supplies requires little thinking or shopping around. However, when the purchasing decision requires researching, such as buying a new office desk, or when there is a reason to check whether a long-term supplier is still offering the best deal, the Internet can be a great time-saver and often a cost-saver. Using search engines, local business directory websites and the Yellow Pages online, enables quick and easy research into the various suppliers and options. Referring to a supplier's website should reveal their models or product lines, plus the quality, price or fee, delivery costs, availability, payment terms, guarantees and after-sales service they offer. A growing number of suppliers have their catalogues online and provide the means of ordering and paying online. There are many advantages to this, including the convenience and cost-efficiency of being able to order whenever you wish, in or out of traditional office hours. It is also cheaper to pay online than writing a cheque. What to do  Develop policies in your e-business plan for reviewing at regular intervals via the Internet the pricing, quality, convenience etc of current suppliers.  Develop policies in your e-business plan for giving preference to office suppliers that provide online ordering and payment facilities.

Improving - Managing the supply-chain and logistics
Many businesses prosper or fail depending on the success of their relationship with their suppliers and with those who they supply. Businesses that rely on other businesses to this extent are in what is called a supply chain - each supplying each other right up to the final link in the chain, the consumer. The Internet can help make this relationship work more effectively and efficiently. This section of the e-businessguide will explain:  what is a supply chain  why collaboration is important  how the Internet can assist  what standards exist that help coordinate online activities 16

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the nature of global supply chains how the Australian Government's ITOL program can help businesses what you can do to investigate supply chains in your industry

About supply chains
A supply-chain encompasses all activities and information flows necessary for the transformation of goods from the origin of the raw material to when the product is finally consumed or discarded. This typically involves distribution of product from the supplier to the manufacturer to the wholesaler to the retailer and to the final consumer, otherwise known as nodes in the supply-chain. The transformation of product from node to node includes activities such as production planning, purchasing, materials management, distribution, customer service and forecasting. While each firm can be competitive through improvements to its internal practices, ultimately the ability to do business effectively depends on the efficient functioning of the entire supply-chain. For example, a wholesaler's inability to adequately maintain inventory control or respond to sudden changes in demand for stock may mean that a retailer cannot meet final consumer demand. Conversely, poor sales data from retailers may result in inadequate forecasting of manufacturing requirements. However, it is not simply about passing information from one node in the supply-chain to the next. The dispatch and distribution functions need to work effectively as well, so movement of product from one node to another happens in a timely manner and meets production scheduling. All that said, there can be little point trying to improve your bottom line through transforming your own business without similar changes to the way your supply chain as a whole is functioning. That is, there needs to be consistency between individual business objectives and the objectives of the supply-chain, and access to information in order to provide visibility of data flows.

Technology solutions can support greater data visibility and integration of dispatch and distribution with production scheduling. However, one element that underpins management of the supply-chain is collaboration. Collaboration means firms share information in an accurate and timely manner so all businesses in the supply-chain can adequately plan forward inputs and outputs, dispatch product, manage risk and maximise return on investment. This improves the overall functioning of the supply-chain and ultimately the individual firm's bottom line. The key to collaboration is communication and the key to better communication is electronic transfer of information.

The Internet


Proven supply-chain models rely on the Internet to transfer information electronically, which underpins communication and collaboration between businesses along the supplychain. Using the Internet in this way has a number of benefits, which include:  saving money and time by removing paper transactions - purchases orders, invoices, consignment notes - and speeding up response times  reducing errors in the information passed along the supply-chain by avoiding rekeying data from hand-written or faxed documents  improving satisfaction of customers or suppliers (i.e. next node in the supplychain) with the delivery of information in 'real time' (i.e. at the point at which product is moved)  integration of dispatch and distribution data with product development data at each node of the supply-chain, resulting in real cost savings.

For information exchange associated with the movement of product along the supplychain to work effectively, the adoption of agreed data standards and conventions is required. That is, for collaboration to result in benefits to all in the supplychain, different systems need to be able to exchange information with each other. If agreed standards are used, with each firm suitably equipped to use information exchange standards and participate, then each business, as well as the supply-chain as a whole, will benefit. Data standards have been developed and independent advice (such as from your industry association) should be sought in your decision about which data standard to adopt when exchanging information on the Internet. When deciding what standard to use in exchanging data along the supply-chain a number of questions should be asked, such as:  Are the standards consistent with globally-agreed standards and is the technology, on which they are based, proven?  Does the standard provide unique identifying numbering for products and businesses?  Is there standardised supporting information such as date and address?  Does the standard allow the information to be read in a machine-readable format (i.e. via a barcode)?  Are there standard message formats for the transactions and business documents you normally use?

Global supply-chains
As part of the trend towards globalisation, the largest engineering and construction organisations are pre-qualifying firms and purchasing equipment and services through global supply chains (GSC). To access GSC, you need to be internationally competitive and possess global capability. It is important to be aware that pre-qualification does not guarantee success. You need to follow up with project-specific marketing and promotion. Once registered, and with proactive marketing firms, you can benefit from stable, longterm partnerships with project execution managers. You need to be able to provide


competitive, quality equipment or services to strict timelines and exact specification. Advances in e-business and online procurement are playing a major role in the development of GSC. You should develop 'e-literacy' in order to enter the GSC market. Targeting GSC is a new and exciting way to enter global markets, because it is efficient and cost-effective. You can supply to any project anywhere being undertaken by the GSC operator. Regional procurement centres for large E&C companies, such as Singapore, are able to forward capability information to projects outside their region at no extra cost to the supplier.

Planning - Researching the opportunities - Research and development
The Internet can be used as a relatively cheap and very effective way of researching and developing (R&D) new products and services. As part of the R&D process, it is important to know what new relevant technologies are available or soon will be, what new related scientific breakthroughs have been made, and what innovative ideas or processes are being put forward that might impact on a company's plans for new products and services. What to do As part of your e-business planning, develop a process for the identification and systematic review of websites relevant to your R&D practices and needs. These may include regular reviews of the websites of:  industry bodies and professional associations  individual companies involved in the industry  competitors  research and "think-tank" organisations  industry magazines and periodicals  universities and TAFE colleges  scientific organisations - eg CSIRO  government departments and agencies responsible for industry development, R&D and innovation. Many of these sites will offer subscription to e-newsletters and email alerts which provide a convenient means of keeping in touch. You could also use search engines to conduct online research. Using a search engines such as, http://www.google.com/, http://www.yahoo.com/, http://www.looksmart.com/, you can uncover research and developments you did not know existed. Try using a search engine like Google, and search for a phrase that relates to the R&D area relevant to you, for example, "plastic mould injection research" or "organic fertilising research".

Planning - Researching the opportunities - Staff training
Almost all training and education providers in Australia have a website through which they provide information on courses being offered on their premises or campus - topics covered, availability, when offered and costs. A number of training providers offer online training courses. These have the advantage that they can be undertaken by staff at a time of their choosing and they are not restricted to the training courses offered by institutions


in their own city, town or area. The convenience of delivery, and the range of training material offered online across a whole range of disciplines, activities and services, means that staff training is more accessible and potentially more timely and relevant than ever before.

What to do
Many organisations offer training in the use of the Internet and how businesses can maximise the effectiveness of email and their websites. Try the e-business training section in this website - the link is on the right-hand side of the screen under the Resources heading. Try the following sources in your local area who might provide training courses or know who does:  TAFE colleges  private providers - look in the Yellow Pages ® eg under Computer Training Services  your local library or local council may know of local training providers  your industry association  business advisors who are supported by government and local communities  your computer suppliers.


This section explains how an organisation might approach the building of a website that meets its needs. If you are not sure what those needs are, or what is possible, refer to the Planning section of this website before proceeding. This is not a technical manual that will turn someone into a Web technical expert. It raises and explains key technical, content and design issues so that business owners, their staff and advisors can confidently brief technical experts about their e-business needs and manage those experts. The main areas of this section are:  Technical issues  Choosing and preparing contents  What do you want users to do?  Marketing and your website  Designing your website  E-commerce - selling via your website  Maintenance considerations  Developing the website

Building - Technical issues
There are a number of key technical issues that need to be addressed before building a business website. Final decisions do not have to be made at this stage, but whoever develops the website will need to resolve them with the help of the business owner. So the business owner needs to have thought about these issues and have some answers or at least be familiar with the issues in order to have a meaningful discussion with the developer. Choose one of these topics  Should the contents of the website be held in a database?  Database security  Should the website be the central source of information for everyone?  What type of Internet connection do you need?  Powering and hosting your website  Getting a website name

Building - Technical issues - Should the contents of the website be held in a database?
In technical terms, websites fall into two broad categories: 1. those that have been developed in what is called HyperText Markup Language or HTML 2. those that use a combination of HTML and a database. A database-supported website is one that stores its content - text, photos etc - in a database which becomes the core of the website. The alternative, which the majority of websites use, is to embed the contents of the site in individual fixed pages of computer code ie HTML. When a user chooses to view a page in a database-supported website,


that page is created "on-the-fly" because the text, images etc are drawn out of the database and presented on the screen for that user at that moment in time. This is why these types of sites are often called dynamic websites. In contrast to this dynamic presentation of pages, an HTML-based website presents the user with fixed, static pages. An HTML-based website may be a more appropriate solution for an organisation than a dynamic website. Dynamic websites are more expensive to establish and maintain and the cost simply may not be justified. Many service-based organisations simply want a website that provides information on their services, staff, their history and perhaps some fact sheets or newsletters. An HTML site would be perfectly adequate for these needs. Dynamic websites would be appropriate where there is a lot of content, such as large catalogues, or where there are many forms to be completed online by users. A databasesupported website has many advantages over an HTML-based website in these circumstances:  By creating pages on-the-fly, a dynamic website can be very flexible in the information it presents to users. It can gather information from various parts of the website and present it on the screen. This gives a great deal of power to the users to choose what they want to see and in what format. A static, HTML site, cannot do this to the same degree as every page is set.  Using a database is an extremely efficient solution for maintaining content-rich websites. For example, if an organisation has numerous product lines with many variations on each and it likes to give customers the ability to select options and make up their own products, then a database-supported website is essential. To achieve this in a static, HTML environment, would mean composing countless pages anticipating every possible combination of the products and their options. Then if one of the options had to be withdrawn or the specification changed, the content editor would have to remember every page it appeared on and make the change on every page. This is clearly inefficient and increases the chance of errors being made.  It allows any data submitted by users of the website, such as contact details, bookings or orders, to be stored efficiently for instant or later retrieval by staff or users themselves or by the website itself automatically. There are security implications here which are addressed in the next section.  It enables users to search the site very effectively. When the site's content is stored in a database, users can search for images, video and audio clips or links to other sites and the occurrence of individual words or phrases. Results of searches can be made meaningful and user-friendly. In deciding which way to go for your website, HTML or database, you may need to take into consideration that if you start with an HTML site and then decide to move to a database-supported one in another year or two, you will probably have to build it from scratch and it is likely be at least three times the cost of the HTML site. This website is database-driven because it has over 50,000 words organised into numerous inter-related categories. We wanted a highly efficient means of maintaining and managing this content.


Building - Technical issues - Database security
The security of database-supported websites is an important issue. If the website is the central store of company information, it needs to be secure. There are a number of security solutions available, including off-the-shelf products, methods of configuring the hardware and software, or procedures and practices to follow in the workplace. It is almost certain that the more complex the security the more expensive it will be to install and maintain. Be careful, therefore, to match your solution with your real needs and budget. Actions you can take to protect your database:  provide a password-only access to the database section of the site  install "firewall" software to prevent users getting into the database and making changes or stealing your information  develop office procedures and practices that govern how backup procedures, storage of access codes etc are carried out and monitored - eg keep it locked away, limit who has access to it or can make changes.

Building - Technical issues - Should the website be the central source of information for everyone?
If the content of the website is held in a database, it becomes possible to reduce the number of databases held on various computers around the organisation. Instead of having a customer database on one computer; the images, product descriptions, catalogues and pricing lists on another; and internal documents, such as quality manuals, policies and procedures, on yet another computer, using a database means they can all come together in the one database on the website - or at least on the same computer that hosts the website. The advantages are:  Using a secure login procedure, staff can access records and information via the website no matter where they are, any time of the day or night, as long as they have access to the Internet. Having secure global access to a company's information via the Internet is called an extranet.  Customers and suppliers can log on and update their own details, download documents and access information from the central database as far as they are permitted.  If the website contains the only database and filing-room of company information, staff and customers know that what they retrieve from the website is the very latest, most up-to-date information held by the company.  It saves staff time trying to find the latest information and checking that the information they have is the very latest.  It is easier to manage security of information and access rights to information


What to do
It is more expensive to develop a database-supported website than one that simply has the information separately stored in the HTML code of each page. However, the efficiency gains may outweigh the additional cost.  Undertake a cost/benefit analysis.  Identify what existing databases, catalogues, lists, information sheets, internal manuals etc could be moved to a database-supported website.  Identify the advantages.  Estimate the value per year to the organisation of increased sales, time-savings, cost-savings, customer satisfaction, flexibility for staff, security etc.  Contact a few web developers, or ask internal IT staff, and get estimates of the cost of developing a database-supported website - you will need to ask about development costs and on-going yearly costs - eg licence fees, technical maintenance.

Building - Technical issues - What type of Internet connection do you need?
There are two categories of connection to the Internet: normal, referred to as dial-up and fast, referred to as broadband. Which one you choose will depend on a number of factors, but certainly one of the most important is how fast it needs to be to allow staff to use the Internet efficiently and effectively. If information or data used daily by staff comes from the organisation's website rather than from a computer located in the office, or they need to refer to their organisation's website regularly to assist customers or suppliers (eg - answering telephone enquiries), then a fast connection to the Internet is required. If the company's website is stored internally on the company's own web server (a computer that serves out website pages) speed of access will not normally be a problem. If a company's website is hosted by an Internet Service Provider (ISP) the speed of the connection to that ISP is very important. A slow connection could lead to loss of efficiencies, poor customer service and frustration for staff. Where connection speed is important, businesses should consider using a broadband connection. Broadband is the term used for any kind of fast Internet access. Broadband is designed to give a business or residential user instant Internet access 24 hours a day. It is fast generally 10-20 times faster than normal dial-up modems. A typical dial-up modem operates at either 28.8 kbit/s or 56 kbit/s. A broadband connection operates at between 256 kbit/s and 10 Mbit/s, depending on the service selected. A 150 Kbyte Word document takes about 21 seconds to download using a 56 kbit/s dial-up modem, but less than 1 second on a 1.5 Mbit/s broadband link. Similarly, an 8 Mbyte PowerPoint presentation takes about 19 minutes to download using a 56 kbit/s dial-up modem but only about 43 seconds on a 1.5 Mbit/s broadband link. SMEs with large file transfer needs, and those working in highly collaborative environments, most commonly use broadband. Early adopters of broadband include industries such as IT&T, printing and publishing, finance, insurance, banking, legal and accounting.


What are the benefits of broadband?

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Broadband's high speed gives you access to applications that are either not feasible at the speed of a dial-up connection or just annoyingly slow. For example, broadband can:  allow you to transfer large files of text or graphics at high speeds  give you instant access to web pages, even those with large amounts of graphics that are typically very slow to download on a dial-up connection  allow employees to telecommute, operating from their home or elsewhere with the same response speeds and level of security as if they were in their office  link several computers to the Internet through the same connection - great for multi-user offices  make videoconferencing faster, smoother and more practical  save money by allowing a business to rationalise and centralise its servers. It's always on. As long as your computer is switched on you can be connected to the Internet. This means that you do not waste time dialling up and waiting for your modem to connect you to the Internet every time you go online. You will not be subject to annoying busy signals and less likely to experience drop outs. Your phone line is not tied up while using the Internet. Therefore there is no need to pay for a second phone line. There are no costly additional dial-up charges to connect each time you use the service.

Building - Technical issues - Powering and hosting your website
Speed is the one topic that almost anyone who has accessed the Internet can talk about. It seems to be the universally-understood criterion by which everyone can, and usually does, judge a website. Research indicates that if a website is slower than users find acceptable, they will leave the site - so getting this right is very important. What is an acceptable speed? Just how long users are prepared to wait for a page to download onto their screens is not an easy question to answer. What is "acceptable" will vary from person to person and for each of us may vary on any given day. Some of the variable factors include:  the reason for accessing the site (eg entertainment, information, education)  the user's mood at the time  prior experience with the Internet and therefore expectations  the environment in which it is accessed (eg an Internet kiosk at an airport)  the importance of getting the information at that very moment  whether the user is paying to access the website at that time. This range of factors makes for difficulties in determining what is an acceptable speed. For one person, a fifteen second wait may seem like an eternity, yet be quite acceptable to another.


No matter what a user's expectations might be, or how hard a website owner strives to provide a fast website, some technical factors that are out of their control will affect the speed of the website:  the speed of the user's computer and what else they are using it for  their connection speed - dial-up modem or broadband cable  their location and quality of line into the house or office  the capacity of the ISP through which they connect to the Internet

Building - Technical issues - Getting a website name
As with any business or household, websites require an address (called a domain name - eg woolworths.com.au) so people can find them easily and refer others to them. We all understand how street addresses work, but out in cyber-space the rules are different. There are no streets containing houses and buildings organised in neat, sequential rows so a domain name points to where the website is located (or hosted) and can indicate the name of the business. The domain name: freshfruitmart.com.au indicates that the business name is Fresh Fruit Mart, that it is a company (.com) and the website is located in Australia (.au) There are two main types of domain name: 1. Domain names that end in .com, .net, .biz etc. These are available for use by anyone around the world and are generally referred to as 'global domain names'. You can find out more about global domain names by visiting http://www.icann.org/ (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is the international policy authority for domain names). 2. Domain names that end with a 'country extension' such as com.au, org.au, net.au. In Australia this is referred to as the '.au domain space' and is administered by .au Domain Administration Ltd (auDA). What can I have as my domain name? There is a common misconception that because you already have a company or business name, or a registered trade mark, you have an automatic right to register a corresponding domain name. This is not the case. No-one has an automatic right to a domain name. Domain names are licensed on a "first come, first served" basis to eligible applicants. Some organisations own a number of brands or products which they want to represent individually and separately on the Web. This requires registering a domain name for each of the brands and establishing separate websites. The sites can all sit on the same host computer (ie web server) but this will be invisible to the user who will consider the sites, should they even know that multiple sites exist, as quite separate. Checklist for choosing a domain name The following questions will help guide you in choosing the most appropriate domain name for your website:  Would average users guess the domain name without recourse to search engines?  Does the domain name support the branding of the organisation? 26

Does the domain name stand on its own and convey meaning - if it was the only thing on a poster or billboard would the public be able to guess the type of site and its content?  If an acronym or abbreviation has been used, does it make sense to the target audience?  Has the most appropriate and obvious organisation type (or types) been chosen eg .com or .biz?  Is the name too long or awkward to type or remember?  Have additional domain names been considered that users may guess and that should be registered along with the preferred domain name - eg freshfruitmart.com.au & freshfruitmart.com? The cost of registering varies, depending on the type of domain you choose, the registration period, and the services included with your registration - all of which vary between registrars and resellers, as do the terms and conditions offered.

What to do
Before registering your domain name yourself, or having your ISP do it for you, do some background research and preparation using these sources:  Refer to the set of guidelines designed by .au Domain Administration Ltd to help you develop your domain name: http://www.auda.org.au/  For a detailed explanation of domain names download a brochure prepared by DCITA, Staking your claim on the Web: http://www.dcita.gov.au/ie/publications/2003/03/staking_claim

Building - Choosing and preparing contents
The words, tables, graphs, images, audio and video in a website all constitute the contents of the site. The decision about what content to include should be guided by:  the aim and purpose of the site  the audiences for which it is intended  the resources available to provide and sustain the content  the format of the content - eg too many rich images may result in a site which is slow to download and view  its availability in a web-ready format - eg it is in a word processor document or photo that has already been scanned  its importance within the operation of the organisation  legal issues such as copyright and privacy laws. When preparing content for the website the content editor has to resolve the following questions:  What message do you want to get across in each section of the site?  Who is the audience you are trying to reach - customers in Australia or overseas or both?  Where are words or images required in the site?


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What type of text is required? (introductory, explanatory, narrative, captions, instructions, advertising) What style is appropriate for each section of the site? (casual, formal) What age group will the vocabulary be designed for? (dictated by the target audience) What text and images already exist? How much can be used and how much needs to be written, photographed or created? Who will write the new text or rewrite any existing text, take photos, draw diagrams? Who will edit the contents before the site goes live to check for factual accuracy, spelling, grammar, sense, relevance in time and place, vocabulary level and cultural sensitivities?

What to do
Inevitably, decisions need to be made as to what content to include in a website. You can use the following checklist to help you decide about each item of content. The more times you can say "yes" to each of these questions, the more appropriate the content is for inclusion in the website  Is it relevant to the aims and objectives of the organisation?  Does it add value to the site?  Have you permission of the content owner to use it on the site?  If permission to use it on the site has not been secured, is the time and cost to secure it reasonable?  Does it already exist in electronic format - eg on the word processor?  If it does not exist in electronic format, is the time and cost to digitise it reasonable?  Do you know the item to be accurate?  Do you know the item to be up-to-date?  Is it likely to be interesting to a majority of visitors to the site?  Will making it available on the site save staff time or offer some other efficiency?  Will it encourage people to re-visit the site?  Is it culturally-sensitive - ie avoids colloquialisms or ideas or words that may offend people of a particular religion or background?  Is the content within the law? (libel, fair dealing, privacy, security) As a general rule, if still in doubt about some content, leave it out until you are happy with the answer to every question posed. Remember that a website is dynamic, and content can be added or removed at any time.

Building - What do you want users to do?
One of the most effective things you can do with your website is to give users power over it. Give them choices, tools and features that encourage them to interact with the site and provide them with a sense of control over it. Here are some interactive features you could consider for your website:


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Search - Provide users with the ability to search your website for words, phrases and/or provide them with key topics from which to choose. Consider in what format the results are to be presented. Online forms - How many, how many fields in each, what needs to be verified before the user submits the form - eg have they completed the field for email address? 'Members only' section to the site - Is there a section that can only be accessed via a user name and password? Where are the user names and passwords to be stored? How will you handle people who forget their password? Interactive questionnaires/surveys/polls - How many, how long, how presented? What will you do with the information provided by the users? Animations - How can you (should you) use Flash or other programming devices to bring life into your site and illustrate products and services? Subscription email lists - What can users subscribe to by way of email lists, such as e-newsletters? Links to other sites - How many and what tools are to be employed during maintenance to check automatically on the veracity of the link? Downloadable files - PDFs, images, audio files-how many, in what format, with what restrictions? Contact Us - What contact details should be on the site - eg email, telephone, street address? Site map - What is the site map of the website to look like? Just text as links or is a diagram preferred? Text-only version of the site - Will you need a text-only version of the website for customers who are visually impaired or with a slow/expensive connection? Multilingual requirements - How many languages? How much of the site is to be multilingual? At what point are users to nominate which language they want to view the site in - eg home page, a splash page? Provision for printing and bookmarking (ie allowing users to store the website address in their browser's memory or "favourites" section) - Are users to be able to bookmark specific pages or is the home page sufficient? Do you want any special print function other than the default function supplied by the browser?

What to do
Time and budgets usually mean organisations have to restrict the features used on the site, so prioritising is an important task. Which ones come first? The following checklist can be used to assist the decision-making process.  Does the function add value to the aims and objectives of the site?  Do your current computer systems, databases, and office procedures support the function? If not, what amount of work and expenditure would be required to achieve compatibility?  Are there implications for people's workloads - eg responding to emails?  Will the feature save the organisation time and money - eg reducing printing costs and staff time, reducing time taken answering phone enquiries and taking orders?  Will the function provide a potential revenue stream - eg online shop?


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Is there a cost of maintaining the function - eg license fees and time required? Is training required to enable staff to maintain the function? When the function is added will it affect the speed of the site? Does the function call on the target audience to have a level of computer speed and power, browser version and a range of plug-ins that is reasonable? Considering the answers to the above questions, does the cost of this feature represent value for money?

Building - Marketing and your website
Before the website is built, and as its features are being planned, consideration should be given to how to use the website as a marketing tool.

What to do
For each of the two important aspects of marketing listed below, consider the advice presented and determine whether you need a feature and how to incorporate it into the building plans for the website. The most effective way to address these issues is to ask your target audience - customers, suppliers etc. Customer service  Your website is for your target audience, not you, so make sure everything is focused on them.  Give users the information they want, don't hold back.  Give users the services they want.  Fully disclose what you do and what you do not do - don't be vague.  Provide an online help desk (not just a "contact us") that provides quick email feedback, or even a telephone service, to help customers to use the site.  Make sure all staff are online - they can help callers navigate the site and refer to the information themselves.  Create a "customer service" section in the website that encourages users to make enquiries.  Create a "frequently asked questions" section - pick the top ten, put them on your site and evaluate often, provide illustrations and diagrams if necessary - eg map of your street location. Make it easy for people to do business with you  Work out what customers' online priorities are and make them your priorities.  Let people configure your products and services.  Place the most important elements of the page at the very top so users can act before the whole page has been built.  Provide your contact details either directly on the home page or just one click of a button away - don't bury them in the website.


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Provide a search feature on your site so users can search for terms and words in your website. Make the navigation easy and clear so they can find where to order products, book events and download information. Make your website accessible to people with slow connections and to people with a disability. Make your site user-friendly for overseas users.

Building - Designing your website Organising the contents
The art of organising and arranging the contents of a website is called information design. This includes categorising, dividing and labelling the contents such that the intended audience can readily see what is in the website and where it is likely to be located. The design should entice and encourage exploration of the site by the use of labels and divisions that are interesting and intuitive.

What to do
When designing the information for your website:  Always consider the way users think of and talk about your organisation, its products and services and the information it deals in, and be sure to use those terms.  Identify the content or elements that most users want to access and be sure it is either on the home page or only one click away.  Keep the number of clicks a user has to make to get to any information on the site to three or less - ie develop a site with a flat rather than deep structure.  Keep the labels you give to sections of the site simple and short.  Be culturally-sensitive when naming sections of the site.  Consider making clear divisions between information, products, services, technical aspects of the website, communication and marketing aspects, static information and dynamic information. Navigation design Navigation design is the art of providing users with the means of accessing the contents of the website and related sites. The art lies in creating for users intuitive and obvious evidence as to where they are, have been and could go in the site, using tools that are easy to use, see and understand, such as buttons and arrows that enable users to access quickly any contents from anywhere in the site. What to do Consider these suggestions about navigation design and raise them with your web development team:  Keep it simple and make it blindingly obvious.


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Provide multiple pathways and tools for users to find information - search tool, site map, menus. Remember that users of your site do not necessarily enter it from the home page, so provide on every page an obvious means of searching the site and returning to the home page. Users are not clairvoyants so do not make them guess or have to remember what is behind menu buttons. If you use icons as a navigation tool, be careful to use ones that your target audience will understand and are large enough to be recognised. Provide signposts for users as to where they are and have been in the site. Be consistent with your use of navigation devices. If users have to scroll down a page in your site to view content, provide a tool that they can click on to take them back to the top of the page.

Building - Designing your website - The look and feel
The graphic design of a website is the art of using colour, form, shape, typography, illustration and layout to convey a message. The art lies in blending the various elements that make up graphic design so they communicate the intended message to the intended audience. There may be multiple audiences and therefore multiple messages or impressions to communicate. The design of a business website must make an immediate impact on the audience. It should:  reflect the type of business  establish the website's purpose and scope  be visually appealing  convey credibility  arouse interest  be friendly and non-threatening. The site has to achieve all of these things instantly and simultaneously for the target audiences.

Building - Designing your website - Accessibility
Your website needs to cater for people with disabilities of various kinds, such as sight impairment of varying degrees, colour blindness, hearing impairment and other physical disabilities. Many organisations have disability and equity policies, and as a very public face of the business, the website must embrace those policies. What to do There are some steps you should take during the building of the website to comply with government legislation and as a gesture of goodwill towards all users.


1. Build a text-only version of the site. This version of the site will contain no images, animations, roll-overs etc. It will contain text only. This makes for a very fast site and if the font size of the text is enlarged will cater for many sightimpaired users. This version of the site would need to be accessible via a button on the home page. 2. Review the accessibility guidelines as published by the internationally recognised peak body in setting Web standards - the World Wide Web Consortium: http://www.w3.org/. 3. Test your site for its level of accessibility using the Bobby website. This will give your site an accessibility rating that is recognised by the Webcommunity. It can be accessed at http://www.cast.org/bobby/.

Building - E-commerce - selling on your website
The term e-commerce refers to buying, selling or ordering goods and services on the Internet. It is a sub-set of e-business. So e-commerce happens when any commercial transaction is facilitated by the Web or email. The transaction may simply involve a customer ordering an item from your online shop and paying for it by cheque when it is delivered. The more sophisticated ecommerce systems allow users to pay immediately via credit card for items puchased online. Websites or email can be used to allow customers or clients to order, purchase or pay for things such as:  products and services  information in the form of papers, images, video or audio clips - perhaps held in a database on the site  membership subscriptions  rates, licences and taxes  subscription to specialist services, newsletters etc for which you normally charge  specifically requested research conducted by the organisation's staff  bookings and tickets  venue/facilities bookings. E-commerce does not have to be an expensive or sophisticated function or process. It is simply a tool that makes it easier for customers and suppliers to do business with you, and you with them. What to do If your e-business plan involves selling products or services online (via your website or email, or both) then you need to consider a range of issues before the website is built. The following section assumes that you want to provide the e-commerce solution via your own website or email system. An alternative to doing it yourself is to join an emarketplace where someone else puts your catalogue online and handles the e-commerce solution for you. If you want to explore that alternative, look at the e-marketplace section of this website - just click on the link.


Assuming your plan is to include e-commerce on your website, it is important to resolve a number of issues before going online because the approach you adopt for each will affect the way the web developer builds the site, what e-commerce software is employed and it will help to ensure that the solution is right for you and your customers. Consider each of the following issues: What products and services are to be sold online? Not all products or services are suited to being sold online. For example, CDs and books sell very well online but it is more difficult to sell life insurance over the Internet. Perhaps only a selection of your products or services should be offered for sale online. Are there any business partners to consider? Before making these products or services available online, consider that once online, anyone, anywhere can see and purchase them. Is this an issue for you and your business partners? For example, do you have re-sellers or fellow franchisees who would regard your e-commerce activity as treading on their territory or even taking business away from them? What price to charge and what pricing model? Should the pricing/fees be the same as that charged to face-to-face customers? You may want to offer a discount for purchasing online to encourage people to purchase online. Determine how much to charge for freight and handling for the various quantities that can be purchased online. How to present your products and services? What will be the means by which users see and select products and services? Will you provide images, video clips, animations or samples of your products or services? If there is a range of products and options, how will these be presented? How will the prices/fees be displayed? How do you want users to be able to make selections and edit their choices should they decide before paying that they want to change their selection - referred to as a shopping cart solution? How are the products or services to be delivered? Directly online, by post, courier, or collected in peson by the purchaser. Payment method and timing: Do you want to be paid by credit card, cheque, money-order, cash? When is it best to receive payment, given the type of product or service being purchased online? Instantly, at the point of sale, or is it sufficient to take an order via the website or email and invoice the customer at the point of delivery or at the end of the month? Security and reliability: What level of security of your e-commerce solution is required or appropriate? How dependent will your business be on the security and reliability of the system? eg if a significant amount of your turnover is to be put through the website then it needs to be secure and very reliable. Fulfilment: What is the availability of the goods and services for sale? If you require instantaneous payment but then cannot supply the goods, you may then waste time crediting their money and you may lose the goodwill of the customer.



Does the e-commerce solution need to be linked to your product catalogue and/or stock and inventory system, and to what extent? If you have only a handful of products and you don't expect to sell high volumes through the website then this may not be an issue. But if you expect a high volume of sales, and/or the number of products and options being offered online is large, and/or has to be updated constantly, then you may need to have a direct link between the website and the catalogue systems on your office computers. Maintaining the e-commerce solution: How often will you need to add, delete or update the details of products and services on the website - eg prices, availability? If it will be necessary to update the e-commerce catalogue regularly, then an efficient and effective solution will need to be provided by the web developer. You will need to balance the need for efficiency and ease of updating with the cost of the proposed maintenance solution. Managing risk: Providing an e-commerce solution carries with it some risks. In order to limit the risks, and to ensure that you mange the expectations of your online customers, you should develop and then explain clearly on the website your policies covering:  privacy - what you will and will not do with their details  returns policy - under what circumstances you will accept returned items and how will they be returned?  shipping policy - freight costs, insurance, import duties, where you will not deliver goods  fulfilment policy - what you will do if an item/service is purchased but you cannot fulfil the order in reasonable time  security - of their personal details, their payment records, credit card or account details if given. There are numerous e-commerce solutions available from Internet Service Providers, web developers and specialist third-party suppliers. Probably the overriding consideration for an organisation in deciding which solution to adopt is its integrity, security and the bonafides of those organisations that are selling it and supporting it. If you want to offer instantaneous payment by credit card, you will need to arrange it with your bank and obtain a security certificate from a registered issuer (eg Thawte - http://www.thawte.com) so that your website is secure for people providing credit card details. When choosing an off-the-shelf solution or accepting one developed by your web developer, ensure that the solution is supported by a reputable bank and that it is deployed on websites of organisations you recognise and respect. It is recommended that once you have developed the appropriate policies and the accompanying explanations, you have them examined by an appropriately experienced lawyer before placing them on the website. A number of these issues are quite complex and you may not be able to answer them all on your own, and some are best answered by the people who know your products and services better than you do - your customers and clients. So you may like to:  Ask your customers or clients for their thoughts and preferences on the issues above.  Speak to your bank about their e-commerce solutions.


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Look up the "who can help" section of this website and contact an e-business advisor listed in your location. Speak to a web developer in your area.

Building - Maintenance considerations
While maintenance happens after the website is launched, it is important to consider how you want to maintain the website so that appropriate features can be built into the site from the beginning. There are a number of levels of sophistication and options for maintenance of a website:  outsourced: requests for change and the new contents are emailed to a web developer who makes the changes  in-house - manual: the business makes the changes itself by accessing the web server and changing the programming code  in-house - semi-automated: the business makes the changes itself by using an off-the-shelf editing program  in-house - automated: the business makes the changes itself by using a maintenance tool built by the web developer specifically for the business to enable it to maintain its own site - this solution is often referred to as a content management system. What to do Use the following checklist to help determine the best maintenance solution for you. Give an importance rating (high, medium, low) to each feature listed below. Then use the findings to brief the web development team about the maintenance solution you require.  user-friendliness - ease of use, how much training is required to use it efficiently  efficiency - how quick and easy it is for staff to access and then update the site  independence - reduced reliance on the web developer to update the site  autonomy - staff control over publishing to the website and updating their sections (this is often called distributed publishing)  cost - the initial cost of the maintenance solution and on-going costs such as licences and training  quality control - automated processes to help ensure that updates and new content have been checked  safeguards - systems that minimise mistakes being made and provide the ability to undo mistakes  security - prevention of any unauthorised person accessing the maintenance solution and making changes  comprehensiveness - the percentage of website staff allowed to change and update  practicality - the ability of all relevant staff be able to use it effectively given their computer equipment, Internet connection speed and access  flexibility - its ability to be adapted at minimal cost to maintaining new types of content and features  scalability - its ability to cater for more staff users and a growth in the quantity of material requiring updating


compatibility - its ability to communicate with your files, relevant systems and databases and be compliant with industry standards.


Building - Developing the website
This section deals with briefing, selecting, engaging and managing the web development team that will build your website - whether in-house or out-sourced. Double-click on the link to download an Excel document that provides a sample budget for building a website: e-businessguide Template - Sample Budget for Building a Website (24 kb) If you feel that you haven't done enough yet to be ready for this, refer to the Planning section of this website and to the other parts in this Building section. Choose one of these topics  Writing the development brief  Who does the developing  The development contract  Selecting the web developer  Evaluation and score-sheets  What to look for in a developer  Staging the development  The technical specifications exercise  The construction phase  Delivery and deployment  Testing the site

Building - Developing the website - Writing the development brief
The development brief provides the developers with sufficient information on which to base a proposal to undertake the development of the website. It would be ideal if it were to contain enough detail for external web developers to provide a firm quotation. Quite often it will merely enable them to provide an approximate quotation which would be confirmed in the first stage of the project once they were appointed. Below is the outline of a typical development brief. You can either read through the text below or download the Development Brief template document which provides the same material but in a ready-to-use Word document. Section 1. About [your organisation's name]  Organisation's mission statement  Services/products offered  History of the organisation Section 2. E-business Vision and Objectives  What is its vision?  What are its objectives?  What are the intended deliverables of the e-business plan? Section 3. Target Audiences Be as specific as possible about who the target audiences are. Provide as accurate a breakdown of the demographics as possible, eg gender, age groups, location (state, national, international, rural, city), interests. Provide some assessment as to their likely experience using the Internet. 38

Section 4. Project Management Explain the management structure - who are the decision-makers, their respective roles, internal decision-making procedures. Detail your expectations re project meetings:  how frequently the project team is to meet with the developers  the agenda for those meetings  what is expected of the developers by way of reports  how proceedings are to be recorded  how disputes are to be resolved. Section 5. Background to the Project Provide any relevant history of the project and/or the organisation that would assist developers to understand people and content sensitivities, schedule, design, aims of the organisation etc. Section 6. Content Indicate:  content scope - how many words, images, maps, minutes of video, audio etc  content type - eg text, photos, audio, and their current format - eg digitised, hard copy  provide an information design map showing all headings and sub-headings to be used in the site and how they relate to each other. Section 7. Functionality Identify the functional elements that are to be included in the site. Describe in as much detail as possible how you envisage each function will work from the user's perspective. Include what results or information you want and what tracking you want to be able to do when users access that functional element. For example, for each online form stipulate how many fields of information, what information is sought, to whom in the organisation the information supplied is to be sent and in what format - as an email or a comma delimited file that can be imported into a spreadsheet, or is it to go automatically to a database or other program? Section 8. Graphic and Information Design  Describe the corporate identity - does it need to complement the organisation's existing branding (logo, font, colours) or is it purposely different?  Detail your design criteria and provide URLs of sites you like the look of.  Describe how the information/content is to be organised (ie the information design) and provide guidelines.  Specify accessibility requirements. Section 9. General Technical Issues  Speed - the optimum speed and any special factors that may impact on it.  Hosting and web server arrangements - are you doing it or an ISP?  Usage monitoring and reporting requirements.  State the need for the solution to comply with industry standards.  Miscellaneous - explain any restrictions you think will limit the target audience's capacity to access the Internet - eg rural clients with limited access speed and capacity. Section 10. Databases (if applicable) Are users of the site to "talk" to your organisation's database(s)? If so, outline:


whether there is a need for instant links to keep the database up-to-date instantaneously or if periodic (eg daily/weekly) updating is sufficient  what restrictions are required for access to your database(s) and what level of security is required  how often you expect users to access the database(s) and how many at any one time (estimate) - eg if the site is to accompany an exhibition, when do you anticipate greatest access to the site? Section 11. E-Commerce (if applicable) Do you want users to be able to purchase products and/or services via this site? If so, be specific about:  the products and services which are to be offered online  the payment processes which are appropriate - eg instantaneous via a secure online payment solution or users to provide credit card details with their order, leaving the organisation to process the order and payment manually  the fulfilment details - how you are going to ensure supply and how the product or service is to be delivered  how and where the terms and conditions of purchase (returns, refunds policy, disclaimers etc) are to be displayed to users. Section 12. Maintenance and Training Your requirements for what needs to be maintained and how each of the following aspects of site maintenance should be addressed:  the solution - browser-based or simply a third-party tool - eg Dreamweaver or Microsoft's FrontPage  content  graphic and navigational design  functions and features  documentation  training. Section 13. Testing and Revision  What is to be tested and under what conditions?  Your respective roles and responsibilities.  Over what period will testing take place? - at the beginning, during and/or just before launch?  Who pays for changes that are required as a result of feedback from the testing? Section 14. Project Schedule and Deliverables  Specify the deliverables and milestones.  Specify your timeframe and any stages you specifically require in the development process.


Building - Developing the website - Who does the developing
How much of the web development can or should be conducted in-house and how much should be out-sourced? In deciding what can and can't be done in-house, the mistake is often made of assuming that people can easily develop skills and make the mental leap into the online world without assistance. In-house content experts, the marketing department and the shop manager are likely to need some training in how to apply the traditional business models to the online world. Assigning existing staff to fulfil the new online roles and functions often does not work in practice, simply because managers do not allocate sufficient time and resources for the staff to carry out their new roles effectively. Too often people are assigned to online tasks with no adjustments to their previous work-load and job descriptions. Sometimes this reflects a genuine underestimation by management of the time commitment required to, say, digitise content and answer email enquiries. Staff need to be given appropriate time to perform their online roles effectively. If this is not possible because they are already stretched, then outsourcing those roles or buying-in the skills in the form of new staff should be considered. Alternatively, tasks could be reassigned within the organisation, freeing up time for one person to devote more time to the website. This shuffling of roles may not avoid the need to employ additional people. A possible strategy for freeing up time for some staff is to identify tasks that they currently do which could be done via the website. An example is using an email list to distribute an electronic version of the organisation's newsletter via email to its customers. The time it once took for someone to address envelopes and do the mail-out could be spent answering email enquiries or browsing the Web for links to new websites. Any foray into the online world brings with it the necessity to resource the website appropriately. This implies an obligation not to over-burden staff or expect them to perform roles for which they were not employed or in which they are not comfortable. If adequate training is provided and realistic time allowed for staff to learn new skills, then carrying out web development and management tasks in-house can be of great benefit. It builds in-house expertise and reduces the reliance and dependency on web developers and other outside organisations. Sometimes the expense of gaining in-house expertise by either hiring specifically trained staff (eg a webmaster) or conducting staff training, is easily off-set by the cost savings and cost-containment that flows from not being reliant on an outside specialist.

Building - Developing the website - The development contract
A development contract to govern the actions of the web development team is extremely important, assuming the team comprises, in part or in whole, people from outside the organisation. The Agreement should complement the Development Brief and would be presented with it to potential developers at the tendering stage. The development contract should be constructed jointly by the project manager and an appropriately qualified and experienced lawyer. It is an essential risk management tool and should be crafted to provide maximum possible protection for the organisation against litigation from third parties, or damage or


loss arising from a negligent or rogue developer. If composed in the right way, it also has the potential to enhance the efficiency of the development process by providing a framework for decision-making and dispute resolution. One difficult issue that can arise with regard the development contract and the resulting website is its applicability and treatment in different jurisdictions - across states, national and international borders. If the chosen web developer is in another state or country (and this is not uncommon) the extent to which the development contract is binding may be questionable. In addition, content that is perfectly lawful in one state or country may be unlawful in other. The jurisdiction issues should be raised with your lawyers and steps taken to address any potential difficulties in this regard. Do not accept the developer's contract. The contract should be one that your organisation has drawn up with assistance from your legal advisors, who have been instructed to ensure that the contract is as favourable to your organisation as is reasonable and fair. Getting the balance right is difficult. The development contract can be drafted from a very risk-averse stance with terms and conditions that are grossly in your favour and punitive towards the developer. A contract that recognises both parties' rights will be more constructive to your relationship with the developer and of greater assistance to the project manager in the day-to-day management of the project. What to do Before speaking to your legal advisors, consider your response to the following issues that should be addressed in the development contract:  a description of the products and services - this project and what is to be delivered  project management procedures - who is responsible, weekly meetings, agenda, location and minute taking  stages of the project, deliverables and exit clauses - 1) technical specifications (provide the opportunity to terminate the agreement if the developer has proven to be disappointing or worse) 2) development and testing 3) launch  payment schedule, terms and conditions and what constitutes acceptance - when and how much at each stage, what constitutes failure to perform and what rights you will have to withhold payment in part or in whole if the deliverables at any milestone are unsatisfactory  variations to the agreement - procedures for raising, negotiating and amending the agreement  intellectual property - ensure there is an assignment of IP to your organisation, or at least the granting by the developer of a perpetual, world-wide, non-exclusive royalty-free license over the IP  maintenance and support - level of maintenance required, by whom, for how much and for how long at the quoted price  warranties - that the website will be error and virus-free (and for what period), that the web developers have not infringed anyone's rights in supplying the solution  penalty clauses - a dollar penalty for failure by the developer to complete the site according to the agreed timeframe (as amended from time-to-time) without an acceptable reason and due notice  insurance - professional indemnity, public liability and others required by law


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dispute resolution - procedure and who will be the mediator termination - terms and conditions under which the organisation can terminate the agreement, make it so general as to allow you to terminate the project whenever the need arises, and, of course, to pay outstanding fees to that point.

Building - Developing the website - Selecting the web developer
To whom do you issue the Development Brief and Development Contract? If you know a handful of web developers that you believe have the capacity to build the site you want, and your organisation's procurement policy allows it, then you may decide to send the Development Brief and contract to those developers only. However, if you are unsure who is out there that could do the work, or your organisation's internal policies demand it, you may need to search for qualified developers. This involves what is often termed an "Expression of Interest" (EOI) exercise. While the EOI exercise introduces yet another step in the process of developing your website, it can be very worthwhile and could uncover a group of which you were unaware. This process is also very transparent and fair to all. An EOI is generally advertised in newspapers and in other appropriate media to give you the maximum chance of uncovering that "unknown to you" talent. The EOI requires a briefing document that is to be provided to those that respond to the call for expressions of interest. It should provide details of your organisation, a background to the project, its aims, its audiences, the content and functionality of the intended site and the details you want the respondents to provide.

Building - Developing the website - Evaluation and score-sheets
It is useful to develop a score-sheet for use when evaluating responses by web developers to a call for Expressions Of Interest or a Request for Proposal. Using a score-sheet means you will have an overall score for each respondent for ranking purposes and the discipline of using a score-sheet helps your objectivity and helps ensure you compare all responses in the same way. It will also be a record of the reasons for selecting the short-listed or the successful tenderer, if you want to provide feedback to the unsuccessful respondents.

Building - Developing the website - What to look for in a developer

The ideal web developer to build your website would rate "YES" to all the questions posed in the checklist. In reality it may be very difficult to find one developer who achieves the perfect score, and you will choose the one who is most suited to the project. Questions to which you should be able to answer "yes".  Do the web developers have the skills and experience to develop the type of site you have specified? (eg highly dependent on graphic design or e-commerce skills)  Have they built websites for your type of organisation before?  Is what they propose to do for you able to be viewed on a live website that you can see and explore?  Was their written submission easy to understand?  Are they financially sound?  Is their solution value for money?  Do they propose a sound, workable project management methodology?  Does their proposal indicate that they will add value to the project beyond merely providing what you asked for?  Do they seem to be good listeners?  Do they appear to be honest and professional?  Do they understand the project - especially its contents?  Does their solution pose an acceptable level of risk?  Have you met all the key people from the web development team who will be working on the project?  Have they agreed to sign the contract without alteration to any of the terms and conditions you deem to be non-negotiable (eg copyright) and without wishing to introduce new terms and conditions that are unacceptable to you?  Will their approach allow you to maintain the site easily and cost-effectively yourself after it has been launched - should you wish to?  Have you spoken to previous clients and heard good things about them

Building - Developing the website - Staging the development
Once the web developer has been appointed and the contract signed, the development process begins. This step of the development cycle may be divided into three distinct stages: 1. The technical specifications exercise 2. The construction phase 3. Delivery and deployment Testing of the site's technical solution, content and usability should be conducted throughout stage two of the development cycle. Click on the following link to see what you need to test and how to go about it.  Testing the site


Building - Developing the website - The technical specifications exercise
This is a vital stage in the development of the website. It is when the web developer and you collaborate to finalise the exact nature of the website you want built and the technical solutions required to deliver it. You articulated your requirements in the Development Brief and the web developer will have proposed technical solutions in their submission, but neither of you have had the benefit of collaborative and mutual decision-making. The technical specifications stage brings both parties together to share expertise and experiences so as to establish exactly what is and what is not possible, given the people, time and budget. This is not to say that the technical specifications stage will result in a totally different website to that envisaged in the Development Brief and for which you engaged the web developer. However, it is inevitable that there will be some changes to your initial vision for the site as you work through your wish list with the developer. The technical specifications stage should result in clearly defined:  technical solutions - eg authoring language, database solution, maintenance solution, web server and hosting requirements, security  scope and nature of the content  functionality and interactivity on the site  graphic and information design and navigation parameters and rules (but not the actual design itself)  documentation and training deliverables  costings of all aspects of construction and delivery of the website  development and payment schedule for the project.

Building - Developing the website - The construction phase
Once you have agreed to the technical specifications report, the construction of the site commences. Construction is characterised by weekly meetings at which the web developer reports on progress against the schedule. The rules and guidelines for managing this stage should have been stipulated in the contract. In particular, the following should have been detailed:  how often meetings are to be held - recommend weekly  who will attend them  their roles  who sets the agenda and what that is  who takes the minutes  how to resolve disputes. It is at these project meetings that any variations to the agreed deliverables, schedule, costs or required resources are raised and resolved.

What to do


Some advice about the managing the web developers through this stage:  never cancel project meetings - avoid the temptation to postpone meetings even when the project is proceeding well  ensure that suitably detailed minutes are taken at the meetings - they should record any changes to the plan  ensure that the developer makes available appropriate personnel at relevant meetings - eg the graphic designer when discussing the design of the site  establish an email list for all members of the team and insist it be used as the means of communication - some members of the management team may be annoyed at receiving numerous emails that do not always directly relate to them, but it is important that every attempt is made to keep all members informed  avoid one-to-one contact with the developer via email or the phone by using the group email address - all members of both teams should be kept abreast of the developments without playing catch-up at every meeting  ensure that the agreed testing regime is carried out  do not rush into signing-off at the milestones - be sure you are satisfied with the deliverables.

Building - Developing the website - Delivery and deployment
Once the website has been constructed and the testing completed the site is ready for hand-over to your organisation. This third and final stage of the development process involves the web developer:  conducting training in using the maintenance software  installing any third-party software or templates that your staff will use to maintain the site  providing the site documentation - eg navigation maps, indexes of files and the files themselves  returning hard copy and soft copy materials used during the development of the website  closing the test site and project management email groups  both parties may need to remove access to any systems or physical access to buildings.

Building - Developing the website - Testing the site
If organisations want to maximise the possibility that the website will meet its aims and objectives, then testing of various kinds should occur throughout its construction, delivery and deployment. The three major aspects to test during the development of the site (formative testing) and immediately prior to launch (summative testing), are:  usability  content  technical solutions.


The testing of these three pivotal aspects of the site should be critical points in the development schedule. The results should inform you as to whether or not to sign-off on the relevant milestone. Incorporate the requirement for testing into the contract with the web developer.

Usability testing
Usability testing assesses how easy the target audience finds the site to use, understand and navigate through. This sounds a simple enough exercise to undertake but it encompasses testing users' reactions to the content, each design element and function on the site (eg colours, fonts, buttons, arrows) and assessing how well they complement each other. Usability testing is best undertaken by an independent third party that specialises in testing websites. Your team and the web developer will most likely be too intimately involved in the site to see its flaws, and perhaps not experienced enough to ask the right questions of users employed in the testing exercise. Ideally, the third party testing organisation is engaged by your organisation, not by your web developer. This removes any questions about the independence of the test and the report. Ensure that the third party testing organisation produces a comprehensive report detailing the problem areas of the site and specifying the criteria by which to judge whether the fault has been rectified by the web developer. The most effective methodology for conducting usability testing is simply to observe users first-hand as they use the website. It is usually more efficient to undertake this in a controlled environment in order to see what they like, what works for them, what confuses them and if and where they get "lost" in the site. Formative testing might entail a representative group of the target audience providing feedback on design aspects. This testing should be conducted prior to signing-off on the design of the site with the web developers. The testing should be conducted as far as is practicable using computers, browsers and connections that match the minimum configuration agreed to with the developer at the outset of the development of the site. The difficulty here is with timing. At the point where the first of the formative usability tests is conducted, the site will not have been completed and therefore the user may not be able to assess properly all key design aspects. An unfairly harsh assessment may result. It is therefore important to construct the first usability test such that it only tests what is possible at that stage. The web developer should be enlisted to provide as "real" an environment as possible for this testing and to state before the testing where the limitations lie. The summative usability testing is conducted at the end of the development phase when the entire site is complete but before it is launched. Those testing the site must be able to access the complete, fully working site using computers, browsers and connections that match the minimum configuration agreed with the developer at the outset of the development process. The usability test should involve a representative group of the target audience. It should be rigorous, examining all aspects of usability as identified earlier in this section.


Content testing
The person who collated, wrote and edited the content of the website should verify its quality and accuracy and ensure that it is uploaded to the right place. Here is a sample checklist that you might like to adopt when verifying the quality of your website's content before it goes live. Click on the link to download this document into your word processor:

Technical Testing
Technical testing is as important as testing the content and usability of the site. Technical testing is required when milestones in the construction have been reached and before the site is launched to ensure that the site functions as intended. Here is a sample checklist that you might like to adopt for checking-off the various technical aspects of your website as they pass technical testing.


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