e-Biz Revisited

By Design

A potential customer arrives at your web site. Quick, you've got less than 15 seconds to impress him or her. With surfers getting savvier, it's more important than ever for Web design to walk the thin line between basic HTML and frustrating visitors with too much Flash. Powell keeps EngineerSupply.com slim and attractive with a clean layout and clear graphics. That approach works great for his customers: engineers and their businesses.

Sometimes, your type of e-business site might call for more vim. Like crushing aspirin in honey, a bit of sweetness makes the data go down easier. Jori Clarke has seen and helped build her share of Web sites. The founder, president and CEO of e-marketing and research company SpectraCom in Milwaukee recommends a simple graphical approach with layered content mixed with rich media where appropriate. "People enjoy streaming content if it's worth the wait," she says. Always be sensitive to the dial-up surfers, but don't neglect the entertainment factor.

One rule of thumb that Clarke suggests, especially for consumer-oriented e-businesses, is to design for the inner (and outer) child. Not only are kids the customers of the future, but also a surprising amount handle online product research duties for their parents. "If it's easy for kids," says Clarke, "it's going to be easy for adults-and it's the easy one to use that's going to be the winner."

Getting Resourceful

WHERE BETTER TO FIND INFO TO RUN YOUR e-BUSINESS THAN ONLINE?

Seek and you shall find many Web sites that can help in your quest to better your e-business. If it's any indication that things are looking up, dotbomb-tracking sites like TheCompost.com, DotComFailures.com or DotCom Scoop have either ceased operations or scaled back significantly.

Understanding the Web world around you is critical to your e-business success. To keep a handle on hard facts, visit CyberAtlas. This collection of market research covers demographics and geographics with sections devoted to specific market areas. WhatIs is a quick stopover for technology definitions. If you need to brush up on what "arachnotaxis" means, this site is for you.

Some other sites you might want to keep on your radar include the World Wide Web Chamber of Commerce and the SBA-sponsored U.S. Business Advisor. The Business Advisor features e-services information and resources with handy outside links that cover different aspects of business on the Web. And in case you were wondering, according to WhatIs, "Arachnotaxis is the use of a table or structured list of URLs for Web sites (or words that hyperlink to Web sites) to help locate them."

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This article was originally published in the November 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: e-Biz Revisited.

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