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yARN: Web presence - Smart business or bad?

yARN: Web presence - Smart business or bad?

I wonder if your friendly neighbourhood corner store has a Website?

Because the Federal Government’s <i>Digital Economy report</i> showed that despite 87 per cent of Australian businesses using the Internet, only 42 per cent had a Web presence.

And I’m sure some people are thinking: What is wrong with the remaining 58 per cent? In this tech-savvy world, a business cannot thrive without an online doppleganger. Besides, it’s not that hard to set-up a Website.

But herein lies the problem. There seems to be a strange assumption here that it is easy to establish an online footprint. You go into cyberspace, claim your electronic territory, prop up a Webpage and you’re in business. Simple.

Yet, that is rarely the case. For people new to this whole online presence shenanigan, unless they possess a design and/or computer coding degree, chances are beginner’s site building software or rudimentary HTML skills will be used to establish their own World Wide Web domain. The end result? A Website more confounding than a Picaso painting.

Yes, an online presence is important, but it is even more important to do it right. Because even if it does not exist in the tangible world, a homepage is much a part of a business’ overall image. If it looks unprofessional, the business looks unprofessional. First impressions count and failure to take this into account online can hamper the chance of reeling in new customers.

There are Web designers out there with the sole purpose of churning out functional and aesthetically pleasing Websites. But not all businesses are giant corporations with funding at their disposal and these guys cost. The ones that really need help are small shops or niche boutiques. For cost-cutting reasons, there is always the temptation to do either nothing, or DIY with disastrous results.

The Government has committed $10 million dollars to get businesses online with initiatives such as Enterprise Connect to provide advisory services to small and medium enterprises (SME). While this is good news, I sure hope the Government will do more than throw money in to tell SMEs "the Internet is good for you". Perhaps giving some money to those businesses for professional Web help will aid them gain some ground on the Internet. Because talk is cheap; a Web designer is not.


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