Web Features & Technologies
Online Store – Whatever your product or service is it can be sold online. The great thing about selling online is that your store is open 24 hours a day. Also it can sell to an unlimited number of people worldwide.
Best of all, for you average online store, the cost of setup and maintenance are significantly lower than a physical store. More and more people are doing their shopping online, from small purchases right up to cars and houses!
However, the real secret to a great online store (a secret the vast majority of stores seems to have missed!) is to make it easy for the shopper to find the product they want, provide them with plenty of information about it, then make it really easy for them to go through with the purchase.
Web Based Instant Chat
If your potential users would find it useful to be able to chat to someone online – a salesman, technical support, product expert, consultant – web based instant chat is the perfect tool.
The advantages over a similar phone based system are that the employee receiving the communication can chat to several people simultaneously, and they can give the user links to pages with more information regarding their query.
Furthermore, the employee can work from a PC anywhere in the world – with all the advantages of teleworking and the potential cost savings of offshore outsourcing.
360 Degree Virtual Tour
Offering users the ability to take an immersive 360 degree virtual tour – of your showroom, an ocean liner, a penthouse suite, a waterside restaurant – is a great feature for anyone selling something that really needs to be seen, like the inside of a car or boat, a property, even a space station!
The user can control the view through 360 degrees around, above and below, and zoom in or out.
Many business processes such as quoting, invoicing, stock-control, logistics, personnel, time and task management can now be put online.
One of the strengths of the web is the ability to allow people to collaborate on projects or documents, independent of location. Communicating with other businesses or customers can also be streamlined, minimising bureaucracy and reducing overheads.
This is just a handful of examples of what the web can do for your business.
Macromedia Flash is a mature web technology that is designed to bring spectacular multimedia content to your site. Because Flash has been with the web since it’s infancy it’s support is something like 98% of web enabled devices (including mobile phones, PDAs etc), meaning that we can use it without excluding many potential users.
Flash is a very powerful technology that can deliver multmedia animations, presentations, interactive web applications and games to your site.
Many sites use several small animations to add a slight polish to their look, while others depend on Flash to wow their visitors or present a sales pitch with sound and video.
This broad term can include the two previous technologies, and it’s definition is mutating as more is accomplished on the web. The concept behind the phrase is to bring the level of functionality and speed people expect from desktop applications (programs, such as MS Word, or Outlook Express) to the web.
As well as trying to match desktop applications in terms of speed and functionality, these web based applications offer a host of advantages over their desktop brothers, such as:
- Portability - the ability to access the application from any platform or device, and any place.
- The ability to collaborate - multiple users can access the application and work together on a task or document.
- Zero Maintenance - the end users don’t need to worry about keeping the program up-to-date, or purchasing and installing new versions as they are released.
- A Speed of delivery that is unmatchable ( web applications can constantly evolve, allowing the developers to improve them day by day, fixing bugs (errors), adding functionality, reacting to user feedback and improving the application all the time.
This is one of the most exciting areas of the web right now, and it’s beginning a major change to the way we think and work with computers today.
HTML & CSS
To the average internet user the web may look the same today as it looked a few years ago, but a change has been taking place in the way that websites are made.
Today we produce website using a new design methodology based upon the recommendations of the W3C – an organisation of web professionals that are appointed with responsibility to help the web develop.
The idea is that a webpage should be seperated into 2 components: the content of the site (the text and images) and the way this content is displayed (the style, layout, colours etc).
This allows webpages with multiple styles, and makes it very quick and easy to change or add content to a site. Also this allows for greater accessibility, enabling partially sighted or blind users to access the information on the web using screen readers (a program that reads the text of a website to the user).
A website should look and function the same in every web browser (the program running on your PC that you use to browse websites)– something that definitely couldn’t be said just a couple of years ago (but can be said now, with a couple of exceptions and provisos).
This means that web developers can create a website (following Web Standards) and it will display and function correctly in, for example, MS Internet Explorer, or Mozilla Firefox, or any internet browser the user choses.
Before Web Standards, programmers spent quite a large percentage of their time trying to adapt to each browsers unique set of rules.
Until every web browser is 100% Web Standards compliant a certain amount of variation has either to be tolerated, or corrected by web developers programming special work-arounds to solve the errors in each web browser, which is often a surprisingly lengthy (and therefore expensive) process.
The power and ability of the web is vast, and is currently sorely underused. However more and more businesses are improving efficiency and productivity by providing web based tools for their employees, clients and partner businesses.
The technologies behind the web have evolved, and the design methodology web developers use has too. It's a complicated area, and we make it our job to simplify and explain the possibilities and choices available to you.