Websites are the late 20th century business revolution - they have transformed how businesses are run, and now allow you to develop and grow your business. They start as small, simple, information websites and can grow to complex websites running your internal systems, selling your product or service, and managing your client.
It is helpful to split functionality into three distinct areas:
- Internet - the normal website we see all over the world - this is an open website available to anyone who choose to come along and look at it, used to provide information; to sell; to promote; to support your brand, product and service. This is where most companies start, the website can be small and simple or large and sophisticated. There tend to be three types of internet website:
- Static - websites with from 1 to 50+ pages, each page has the information put in manually by the design company / website owner. The cheapest to set up, they can be more expensive in the long term if changes are frequent as each change takes more effort. However for a business needing a simple, smart and professional presence on the internet, this is ideal.
- Dynamic - websites are based on computer code - so with the right code they can do things for you. An obvious use of this is to have a CMS (Content Managed System), this simply means that there is an administrative ability for non-technical people to change the website without needing any technical skills, typing in text or adding a photo should be intuitive and easy. You pay more for this up-front, but the costs over time should be lower as you can make changes at any time on your own for no cost. This website uses our CMS - Flarebox which we designed to be as powerful and yet as simple as possible, [read more]. But, it gets more exciting... these websites can also do a number of things automatically for you, as you go to bed, your website will continue working - sending out news to your subscribers, updating pages with RSS feeds etc.
- Interactive - websites the new approach - WEB 2.0 this is the website which is built by its users - Facebook / Twitter / MySpace - these are examples of websites where the content is provided by the user. For many smaller companies this is scary as control seems impossible, but there are ways of managing it, offering some interactive functionality, with the ability to control it (such as clients uploading comments / photos, but being able to approve them before they go live), gives a real richness to a website. Allowing clients to contribute to your website is a fantastic way to demonstrate your business and the support you have from your clients - it brings the website alive.
Many companies will progress from one type of website to the next over time, matching the sophistication of the website to the growth of their business. With our CMS - Flarebox, you can start small and let it grow with you...
- Intranet - using the same technology, but for internal purposes the intranet is simply a closed website for use wthin your organisation. It uses the same easy approach to sharing information internally in the bigger organisation, and is used to replace internal systems giving geographic independence, simplicity of use and a common approach to all systems.
- Extranet - the same again, but letting your clients into your system through secure channels - this is about tying your clients to you, making it easier for them to get relevant information, allowing them to control their data, allowing them to operate your company processes all without your having associated staff costs and overheads. Common examples would be to let your clients log in to see their invoices / pay you; control and update their data; initiate work; follow work progress; etc.
Integration - the big winner - using the same technology across all three areas allows us to provide you with one system within which all three areas interact. The advantage of this is the ability to simplify your costs and to make life easier for your customer. By giving the client the ability to control their own decisions, you hand over many of your own business tasks to them, costing you less in time and money. Having all areas linked allows the system to track what is happening, from prospective customers to actual; trends, reporting and statistics; warnings and alerts - all can be automated and presented to you... Joined up thinking making life simpler this is definitely an area where your costs of development should be smaller than your eventual cost savings.
Which is right for me? - a lot depends on your business / the stage you are at / the amount of money you wish to spend / your clients / your business processes / etc. there is no simple answer, but that is why we talk with you about your business and advise you accordingly, the best answer is the one which costs you the least money, provides the best return and makes your business run as smoothly as possible - all the time making your customers happy! Not possible - of course it is, we do it now for our customers... To have a look at what we have done in the past - have a look at our work, or chat with us.