Web sites come in many flavors:
Basic categories of web sites are outlined here and described according to their business purpose, so you may decide which best fits your company's marketing goal. Your business requirements help determine what features the right web hosting plan must offer you.
Advertisement-style Web sites are characteristically 1 or 2 pages long - a carryover of traditional of print advertising. Sometime referred to as Business Card sites, they include your business or organization's logo and offer similar information as you'd publish in a print flyer. This method of marketing is less effective on today's web, as both search engines and potential clients have come to expect more than just a-page-or-two of information to evaluate you by.
The Virtual Brochure
This online presence" serves as an electronic brochure and is the most common type of Web site -used by small to medium-sized businesses. It provides general information about your organization, the products or services you offer, your business philosophy, and creates a point of contact for people interested in doing business with you.
This type of Web site is an adjunct marketing tool, designed for potential clients who wish to learn more before transacting with your company, as well as existing clients who "drop in" to learn the latest about your business or services.
The Information Resource
The more frequently prospects visits your Web site, the more likely they are to conduct business with you in the future. The best way to keep clients (and search engines) coming back—is to make your Web site an "expert" resource. In turn, this enables your company to showcase its business expertise and garner respect as subject-matter experts in your field or profession.
Examples of site information resources include:
- Frequently Asked Question(s) section;
- Guides to the industry and consumer decision-making;
- Guides to standards on products and equipment;
- Well-maintained links to other information resources;
- An in-depth customer support section;
- A regular newsletter or blog.
Efforts such as these increase the value of your Web site, elevate the profile of your organization, and net positive recognition from search engines and potential link-partner sites.
The Virtual Catalog
You can use your site to display and sell products or services, without being Amazon.com. Whether your product or service categories range from less than a dozen - to hundreds, a catalog can effectively convey the lines your company offers.
Web catalogs don't necessarily require use of a database. For example, when service or product line only change on a quarterly or seasonal basis, you may opt to just update your catalog pages as part of that cycle. Web catalogs aren't limited to the private sector: nonprofit or government organizations that deal with a wide array of program services, also benefit.
E-Commerce Sites - The Virtual Company
E-commerce typically combines two main technology-sets in conjunction with a product catalog:
Dynamic web sites may be supported by database technology. This enables the visitor's view of your site to be updated or tailored, depending on the visitor's computer or web browser platform, or using information gathered from the visitor. Common examples of dynamic sites include your favorite web search engine site, job listing sites, news-related sites and dynamic product catalogs.
These web solutions are significantly more complex, especially when combined with a database. Dynamic sites not only require layout design for the website, but development of data structures to format information and program coding to display that information within your web pages.
Secure web sites are frequently dynamic, so "web application" is a more accurate description. Secure sites add protection for sensitive data such as credit card and other private information processed online. Secure sites may limit access to specific areas - based on membership or other eligibility criteria. Passwords or other forms of personal verification may be used to permit access, get frequent buyer or wholesaler discounts, etc.
The most complex solution... secure commerce sites are built by adding encryption to aspects of the dynamic sites described above. Many off-the-shelf solutions are available, with many hosting vendors offering pre-packaged "shopping cart" software to facilitate secure online sales in real-time.
A 'bit' more to this stuff, than meets the eye ;)
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