Artronic Development (ARDE)

Business Case for a Web Site

David W. Eaton
Artronic Development
4848 E. Cactus Rd. - Suite 505-224
Scottsdale, Arizona 85254
December 1995

What Is The World Wide Web?

The World Wide Web (also known as the Web, WWW or W3) facilitates access to and use of electronic information throughout the world. Special software known as browsers enable users of diverse types of computers to locate sources of information then "hop" from one related source to another -- reading text, viewing graphics, and hearing sound along the way.

Media Attention

The media began paying a lot attention to the Web in 1995. You have probably seen the strange looking character strings which represent Web addresses printed in advertisements and flashed on television screens. (Our Uniform Resource Locator or URL, as these addresses are called, is:


We do not want to boggle you with techno-speak here, but as with any new technology there are some words and acronyms which you will need to know in order to understand discussions about the Web. In fact, some concepts have multiple and even misused names associated with them. Very brief definitions of some of the terms you are most likely to encounter are available in a separate document.

Who Has Web Sites?

Perhaps you know some high technology companies or computer buffs who have their own Web pages (sometimes referred to as a home page, -- we'll get into that later.) But, have you just brushed it off (maybe even sighed "Computer nerds!" under your breath) and thought, "What has that got to do with me?" If so, you may be missing a tremendous business advantage. An increasing number of businesses, even small, non-technical businesses are beginning to establish their own Web sites and reap the benefit.

Furthermore, a number of companies have realized the benefit of using this technology to deliver information to their own employees and have established local Web sites that are not connected to the rest of the world. These are often used to make the latest company policies and specifications available to all employees who need them.

Who Uses The Web?

Access is probably available to many more people than you think and is improving daily. Most large companies and universities already have Web connections. High schools and even elementary schools in some areas are providing on-line access to faculty and students. The major on-line service providers have made the Web available to millions of individuals in their own homes from their own computers. The Web is here now and its use is growing daily.

What Does This Presentation Cover?

The rest of this presentation shows how you can take advantage of the Web. It tries to avoid the technical details of servers and page formats so you can concentrate on the business advantages of the web. It also explains the options available after you decide you want to establish your place on the Web.

Advantages Of The Web

A major advantage of the Web over standard print media is the ability to provide more than just text, even more than just some added graphics. Sound and motion can be part of your customer presentation. Interactive pages that allow readers to provide feedback and order products or services are becoming commonplace.

Perhaps one of the Web's strongest assets is its hypertext or hyperlink ability. Certain parts of a Web page can be designated as "hot." When the reader selects it (often by "clicking" on it) new, related information is displayed, explaining details or offering related services. For example, selecting this word hypertext in our on-line page will display our definition of hypertext from our page of Web terminology and definitions. (Use your browser's Back function to return to this page and continue reading after activating the hyperlink.)

Equally important, information on the Web can be kept more current and timely than printed material. Readers always know where to find the latest information and the most up-to-date version.

How Can The Web Help You?

The Web can help anyone and any business with information that needs to be provided to others. The possibilities are nearly endless. We will cover a few of the most impactive such as:

Product Catalogs and Specifications

Web images can be passive or active. Passive images enhance the text and bring increased understanding to readers. Photographs or schematics of your products can be annotated to highlight special features or configurations. A pictorial representation of the steps required to provide a service can communicate better than text alone and can help ensure clients know what to expect.

But what if the reader wants to know more about "the blue box in the picture" or "how do you remove this part?" Active images can help answer these questions.
Sample Map Diagram

Using a graphical browser, the reader can move the screen cursor to an interesting part of the image and "select" it, usually by clicking a mouse key. By interpreting where on the image the reader was pointing, the Web server determines what information to present for the next page. Perhaps this is a detailed diagram of the blue box or maybe it shows how to remove the part in question.

In addition to providing a pre-sales advantage, such images can be used for improved maintenance after a sale. All angles of a product may be shown and larger or close-up shots of areas of particular interest may be provided. You could even provide several shots with various parts or covers removed to show more detail or include a video of the desired procedure. Trouble-shooting guides can display the problem condition, then explode into possible methods of correction. The reduced service calls can yield higher quality and customer satisfaction at lower costs.

Available Services and Class Schedules

Businesses and educational institutions offering training and other services can use hyperlinks to display complete course descriptions to readers who wish more details. Courses with prerequisites can have those listed and those references themselves can be links to descriptions of the prerequisites.

With appropriate automation to accompany the Web page, the topics the reader wishes to include in the course of study can be analyzed to detect conflicts and to determine the classes which cover those topics. Finally, a complete course progression can be presented which covers all the desired topics and includes all prerequisites. Such an approach better serves the customer or client and ensures that all your pertinent offerings are presented.

Menus and Special Offerings

Some businesses have rapidly changing needs which can be met nicely by electronic presentations.

Maps to Your Locations

While a map of all your store locations is better than just providing a listing of the addresses, an active image map can help answer this question even better. Using a graphical browser, the reader can point the screen cursor to the location of their home on the map and "select" it. The Web server can be configured to present the address and photo of the store nearest to the selected point on the map. If none of your locations is convenient to the reader, perhaps mail-order information could be presented. In either case, you've provided more help to the reader than could be done with a printed page.

Customer Feedback, Orders, and Surveys

Forms can allow users to enter text or select various items from preconfigured lists, then the server can manipulate that information in specific and complex ways. Perhaps it should be dispatched to a recipient via e-mail. In other cases, it could be used to register a customer for a class and issue an invoice.

Forms are excellent ways of allowing potential customers to order more information about a particular product when that information is not available on your Web site. For example, sensitive price list requests can be filled by surface mail or by having a sales representative deliver it in person. Also, forms may be used to take surveys and to allow customers and clients to complete membership or service applications.

The possibilities for information gathering with the Web are much greater than with other formats. Your inquiries can be more accurately targeted, more thorough, and less expensive. Since the replies can be electronic, analysis can be made easier and more reliable.

General Interest

All businesses have news-worthy items -- even if they don't all justify the formality of a press release. All these are good candidates for a general interest section of your Web site.

Internal Information

Many companies are discovering the benefits a Web server can have just within their own facilities, without connections to the outside world.

These are just some of the ways an internal Web site can help. Improved communications within your company can lead to better productivity and quality and may improve the chances of becoming ISO 9000 certified, if that is important to you.


Other uses for the Web are being found and invented daily. Though not yet universal, secure transactions are already being utilized under certain circumstances and new technological advances are making even more interactive applications possible. Whatever the needs, the chances are that use of the Web can help.

Plan your site

This is your image

The Web is a publication medium. Your pages reflect on both your organization and yourself. Whether you set up your own Web site or choose to outsource it, be certain to be involved in planning its appearance so it will state clearly and concisely what you wish to convey. It should be easy for new visitors to your site to find information and simple for them to hyperlink to related topics.

Be certain that spelling and grammar are correct.

Build a "welcome page" that grabs a reader's attention when they first find your site. It should let new visitors know who you are and why they should read further, providing them with convenient links to other areas of your site. It should not overwhelm readers with lengthy details or hinder them with large graphics which take a long time to transfer. (This page is often referred to as your "home page", but that term has been so over used and even misused to imply the entire site that it has become almost meaningless. In fact, a "home page" is the page you elect to display first each time your browser is started.)


If your company requires review of printed material by a communications department, then they probably will have the same right of review over material posted on your Web site since it is viewable by the public. Similarly, your legal department or technical organization may need to review the material. Be certain these people are included in your plans.

Related topics such as the tools used to author Web pages, the differences between electronic publishing and traditional paper medium, and between document structure and page layout are outside the scope of this presentation. Suffice it to say that special training is needed for whoever translates the information you want to place on your Web site into the actual pages that will exist there.

For example, long, rambling text is difficult to follow on a small screen and such a page will take longer to transfer over a network -- two reasons to avoid such pages in most instances. (This is also why we offer other formats of this presentation on-line.)


Keeping information current on a Web site is what will keep readers coming back to read more. The frequency of update will depend upon the type of information provided. Major manufacturing products may change only every year or so, but entertainment or training offerings may change every week and restaurant specials every day. Providing those updates can require more labor than initial creation of the Web site. What's more, the extensively hyperlinked presentations that make the Web so useful also make the maintenance task even more complex.

Web site maintainers often utilize automated tools that test to ensure that hyperlinks take readers to locations which still exist and that highlight pages which have not changed or have not been referenced for long periods of time. Human review is usually required to guarantee that content representing cancelled products and events which have already been held are dealt with properly.

Electronic media brings with it a concern that is rarely encountered in the traditional advertising and marketing arena. As the commonly used technology changes (and the composition of the Web and list of available tools are changing daily), even content which is accurate may not have the impact or readability it did the month before. At this writing, there are more than a dozen brands of browsers in general use and there are many versions of each of those. In fact, the presentation format definition (the HTML specification) is being revised and some vendors are inventing their own extensions which are not being included in the standards.

Keeping abreast of the technology directions and testing pages with a multitude of browsers to ensure customers can read your pages can be a daunting, but necessary task.

What Do You Do Next?

If we have succeeded with what we set out to do, you have decided you'd really like to have your own Web site. So, what is the next step? There are two extremes of approach: If neither of these fits your plans, you can decide on one of any number of combinations in between.

Your Own Web Server and Site

If you already have the equipment, knowledge, and resources you think you will need, you may begin your Web site implementation. The following checklist will help you proceed in an orderly manner:

Outsource Your Web Site

If you decide you don't have the resources to dedicate to your Web site, there is no reason to despair. There are plenty of contractors and consultants who can offer the help you need. (In fact, Artronic Development, who created this presentation, is one of those who can provide the products and services you require.) When choosing a Web site supplier, look for: The right Web site supplier will make these complex sounding tasks simple and easy so you will be able to reap the benefits of your site for a long time to come. If you expect to provide any of the future aspects of your Web site yourself, be certain to review the checklist of tasks given in the section above.
This presentation was prepared by Artronic Development for the benefit of our prospective clients and our associates. An outline and an abstract are available for your convenience. This is an HTML document located at URL "".

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