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Some people want everything now. But just as there is no easy way to run a successful business, there is no easy way to extend it online. It's not possible for us to build you a powerful internet presence if you don't even answer your email. Nor is it possible for us to build you a powerful internet presence if you only answer your email from a personal account at home.
Yes, everyone starts that way, but you need to make a more serious commitment if you expect serious returns. Figure a minimum of 1/4 person staff time before you start to see meaningful returns.
It's unlikely the 14 year old down the street with an HTML editor can build you a site. You can't build a real site unless you mess with the code, and no, you really don't have the time to do it yourself. Believe it or not, web sites are serious efforts. And the web site itself is only a piece of your internet presence.
And IBM is right; you can skip the spinning icons....
Make small mistakes
MaineStreet can help you map out a course by which your company can go online. You need to go step by step; you need to make some mistakes and try some experiments.
Your plans will change.
No two businesses are the same. The internal systems and workflow make big differences in the choice of procedures, processes and even possibilities.
Ask someone unfamiliar with the web to describe what he would like to see online or how he would like to do business with you online. Uhh, I dunno, can I use my credit card?
Ask someone familiar with the web.... Better.
Put some of your company's regular business information online and show it to your customers. Show it to your staff. Better still. OK, beef up the e-mail.
Make it an intranet/internet. Now your customers can check account and order status real time. Place change orders and schedule deliveries.
Can your internal systems support that?
What will happen to your business in a couple of years if your internal systems cannot support that? How much can the competition cut its costs with an integrated system that ties vendors and suppliers like that?
Stimulating the process
Your first step is only a best shot. Stimulate your imagination and that of your users. Start gathering ideas about what would really be useful.
Ahh, the possibilities. And oh, the debris! Aren't you glad you didn't start big?
The Iterative Process
Build on what works and re-think what didn't. Redo. Move quickly - a project that takes more than two months to complete is obsolete.
You will not be able to solve the problems of the world with the first or second iteration or your web site. Just start moving in the right direction.
The FBI can take records of your visiting this site and we are prohibited by law from telling you if they do. We minimize record keeping accordingly.
http://www.mainestreet.com/about/the_process.html rev 2005-11-05