In the UK, millions are now online and many are prepared to use the Internet to make and influence purchasing decisions. Businesses should, therefore, consider whether the Internet could provide them with a new marketing opportunity. Although increasing numbers of businesses now have a website, there seems to be a quality problem that is leading to missed opportunities, particularly for smaller enterprises. This belief is backed up by an automated survey of 3,802 predominantly small UK business sites, believed to be by far the largest of its kind to date. Analysis of the results reveals widespread problems in relation to search engines. Most Internet users find new sites through search engines, yet over half of the sites checked were not registered in the largest one, Yahoo!, and could therefore be missing a sizeable percentage of potential customers. The underlying problem with business sites is the lack of maturity of the medium as evidenced by the focus on technological issues amongst designers and the inevitable lack of Web‐business experience of managers. Designers need to take seriously the usability of the site, its design and its ability to meet the business goals of the client. These issues are perhaps being taken up less than in the related discipline of software engineering, probably owing to the relative ease of website creation. Managers need to dictate the objectives of their site, but also, in the current climate, cannot rely even on professional website design companies and must be capable of evaluating the quality of their site themselves. Finally, educators need to ensure that these issues are emphasised to the next generation of designers and managers in order that the full potential of the Internet for business can be realised.
Thelwall, M. (2000), "Effective websites for small and medium‐sized enterprises", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 149-159. https://doi.org/10.1108/EUM0000000006836
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