Understanding what websites do

As a business owner, why would I care what websites do? If a website has what the user (or customer) wants, it simply is a money making machine. Think of the money Google.com, Amazon.com, and walmart.com and other websites make. There is not a moment in the day when a businesses or people are not spending money on these websites!

It should not ignored websites don't just start making money out of blue. It takes hard work and the right ideas. You might also say it has something to with timing and luck as well.

Beyond the financial reasons, websites serve any number of business objectives. So you need to choose the function or set of functions for your website that best serve your business. For instance, small business websites typically are for information-purposes only. This helps the business to let local potential customers know what services the business provides, where the business is located, and business hours. Such websites are small and don't generally exceed 10 pages.

If on the other hand, the small business wants to sell online, the website will need much information than just the basic pages. This would be a type of e-commerce solution: where business provides the information on pricing, product type/name, product specifications/details, availability, etc. and the consumer makes a purchase and provides shipping and billing information.

So there are other things websites do beside the two examples given above. Here is a brief summary of what websites do:

  • Provide information only.
  • Provide information and get inquires. For instance, a customer could submit information on his driving information to get a car insurance quote. Or, a customer may request some information on a specific product or service.
  • Make documents or other data available to selected web users (i.e., suppliers).
  • Make documents downloadable to any web user
  • Perform online transactions (i.e., deposit or withdraw money, register for classes, pay bills, etc.)
  • Support e-commerce activities (i.e., selling, payment processing, shipping, etc.)

So if you are thinking of going online for a business or hobby need, think about what functionality your website needs to have. So if your goal is to sell online, you cannot possibility count on just your basic pages (home, about, history, contact, etc.) to support online selling activities. The basic pages won't let your customer place orders, process orders, inform you of incoming orders, process payments, and so on. All of these processes would be unknown to your basic pages. So e-commerce cannot be supported with just basic - information only - pages.

On the other hand, a small school website may want more than just basic pages but not e-commerce. The school website may provide up-to-date scheduling information, allow students to register and drop classes, etc. This type of registration system would only allow current "students” (known to the school systems) register not anyone from the internet! So this goes on to show you that website perform different tasks for their users. A website that sells products would be not an obvious choice to support a school registration system!

As we all know, websites are not created on their own or adapt to whatever the task on hand. They are customized or developed to serve particular needs (not all or any!) of the business.

So when you think of having a website also spend sometime what you see that website doing. The type of business you are in may help you decide the type of solution you need.

If your business is service-oriented, you probably will opt for a website that is for informational purposes. For instance, you may provide information on pricing, type of services offered, company background, and so on.

On the other hand, if you are selling products, you may consider using a website that supports e-commerce.

To maximize the return of investment on websites, we believe you or someone else from your business should have some understanding of what website do. This is because if you or your staff does not know what websites do, you won't be able to effectively convey and build your online presence.

Did this post help you decide what you want your website to do? Please let us know if you have any comments or questions. We will do our best to answer your questions.

Posted on 6/10/2011 8:34:21 PM