E-Commerce Management Expert Jesse Feiler Discover the ins and outs of managing and maintaining your online business.

By Lori Francisco

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If you think starting a business online or bringing yourbrick-and-mortar business to the Internet can simply be done byinputting a few HTML codes and some clip art, think again. TheInternet may be the wave of the future for business, but itinvolves a lot more than just putting up a flashy Web site. As inall business ventures, knowing how to manage your Web siteis key.

Managing The Web-Based Enterprise In Managing The Web-Based Enterprise byJesse Feiler, software director of Philmont Software Mill, theauthor introduces you to the world of Web-based enterprises andoffers tips on how to make sure yours runs smoothly. Read on tofind out more about what exactly a Web-based enterprise is and howyou can effectively maintain and manage it.

Entrepreneur.com: What is aWeb-based enterprise?

Jesse Feiler: There are twodefinitions. The one most people are comfortable with is somethinglike Amazon.com, an enterprise that uses the Web as its lifeblood.The other definition of a Web-based enterprise is any organizationwith a Web site. [If yours fits the second description,] your Website has to be supported the same way in which an enterprise is. Itneeds to be staffed, maintained and managed. The book addressesboth sides. It's for companies that want to see how to go fromwhere they are today, which is often a brick-and-mortarenvironment, to integrating the Web into their business. It'salso for companies that have a little Web site and have a sense itneeds something more.

"Stopand think about what it is you want to do in a real business sensebefore you play with the technology."

Entrepreneur.com: How shouldthis Web-based enterprise be organized?

Feiler: One of the things Italk about in the book that I think is very important is mission,scope and place. People are pretty comfortable talking about themission of a Web site-what it is you're trying to do-but theyusually stop there. It's very important to go on in terms ofscope, for example. Who are you dealing with? Are you addressingyourself to people in a regional area or are you addressingyourself to pet lovers and veterinarians? Who is your audience?Mission is what you do, scope is how much of it you do, and placeis the trickiest part of them all. In the brick-and-mortar world,it's easy to distinguish a shoe store on Fifth Ave. in New YorkCity from a shoe store that's in a warehouse area. Placedefines how you do what you do-should customers expect to be ontheir own or should they expect to have a lot of customer service?This is an area where a lot of Web sites come up lacking becausethey haven't defined the scope of what they're doing, whothey're doing it for, or how they're going about doingit.

Entrepreneur.com: What arethe basic elements that should be included on a Web site?

Feiler: First you have tofigure out what you're trying to do. There's a whole listof items that should be on each page including navigational tools.A lot of Web sites have a navigation bar to take you to other pageson the site. You should let visitors know who owns the site, thecopyright, all those things. I spend a lot of time talking aboutthe pros and cons of putting information such as last update on apage because that's a two-edged sword. If your last update wasthree months ago, in some cases, that's not going to be verygood. But if you're an organization that doesn't changevery often, three months is a pretty recent update. You have toconsider the pros and cons of everything you put on the page.

Entrepreneur.com: When thesite goes live, what do you need to remember as far as managing thesite and maintenance?

Feiler: The most importantthing you have to worry about is [something that occurs] before itactually goes live. Most people usually start by figuring out whatit's going to cost to maintain their site. From page one of thebook through the end, I say don't do it that way. Workbackwards. Ask yourself what you can afford to do to maintain thissite. Am I going to maintain the site on Saturday mornings, or am Igoing to have a staff of six people do it? Set out what you canafford to do by way of maintenance and then design the site aroundit.

You have to maintain the site because these things don'ttake care of themselves. You have to check your links, check forall the things that could go wrong with the site, especially sitesthat are modified over time. One of the things I tried to do in thebook that I think is important is to let people know they'renot the first to put up a Web site and experience a problem such asputting up a dead link. Get over it, fix it and figure out how toavoid it in the future. Avoiding it in the future doesn't meanchecking the links every day. It probably means avoiding deeplinks, which are the ones that break. I want people to know thereare steps you can take.

Entrepreneur.com: How muchdo you really need to know technically as far as putting up yoursite?

Feiler: What people reallyneed to know and usually skip are mission, scope and place, andyou're not going to get that from a consultant. I've seenthis in almost every Web fiasco. The problem isn't with HTML;it's with the definition of the site and the fact that themission, scope or place was not defined or was misunderstood byvarious people. It's the business side that's the problem.Stop and think about what it is you want to do in a real businesssense before you play with the technology.

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