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Why have a website?
If you have already read what is a website then you now understand that the Internet and a website is merely communicating. What you do with a website is answered by how you do communicate and how you would like to communicate. The most common misconception that exists is that if you're not planning on selling on the Internet that you have no need for a website. Selling is just one way of communicating. The only reason that a business or individual would not need a website is if they have no reason to communicate amongst themselves or outside of their organization.
Internal information lends itself well to website information. Take for example the cafeteria of a company or hospital. The menu changes daily. Traditionally a menu master is made up and then using manpower and atoms is reproduced and disseminated throughout the organization. Imagine the costs involved in this process. Now change this example to bits. The master is still made up as before but the time and expense of duplication and dissemination is completely eliminated. Imagine now this same example if a critical delivery were missed and the menu needed to change the night before. It would be cost prohibitive to redistribute the information when done using atoms. Using bits we merely change the master and on the next day when the information is called for display we have the correct update.
Another example might be a furniture manufacturer who only sells their product through retail outlets. The furniture company would like more people exposed to their products and the features and benefits they have. With a website displaying products and features they can instantly increase their exposure. They can also immediately introduce new products, or product finishes, or fabrics that are now available. Using traditional methods publicity masters need to be made, reproduced and distributed to the retail stores. A store might miss a press release by the manufacturer about a new product or option that is available. The manufacturer would also put up a dealer locator on their website so that potential customers would know where to purchase products in their area. The retailer is being fed customers from one of their suppliers strengthening the relationship. This feeding of customers can also be used as an incentive to become a retailer of the manufacturers products. The relationship becomes synergistic. Again, this is just information dissemination, imagine the cost of sending printed advertisements to every potential furniture buyer and including a list of retailers, completely cost prohibitive.
Another example could be a construction company. This company does not sell on the Internet but they do have crews of workers all over who are working on projects. Imagine a foreman who might need a technical specification while at the jobsite. If the information were published on a website it would be instantly available wherever the job might be. Employee work schedules could be posted and a worker would be able to find out about work assignments before leaving home. Timecard information could be posted through a website instead of only being able to report when office staff was available to receive the information. Project status could be posted so that customers or the general contractor could be kept immediately aware of the progress being made. Projects that have been completed can be published as a form of reference to a potential customer and be cost effectively kept up to date.
Common shipping companies have relied on the Internet for information dissemination for years and realized a tremendous cost savings at the same time. United Parcel Service and Federal Express both have online package tracking systems that enable both the shipper and shippee to instantly verify the status of a shipment. These companies don't sell on the Internet but they use it to communicate.
The government agencies publish important forms on a website that enable people to retrieve the paperwork that might be needed for tax or judicial issues. Traditionally this information has had staggering costs for form information dissemination as well as the hassle for people to try and acquire them. These costs have been significantly reduced by using the Internet for publishing.
A scuba diving store caters to people who want to go diving in the area where the shop is located. The store publishes diving condition information about the conditions that day. Their potential customers can view this information and make decisions before they drive all the way to the beach. The store also publishes a products rental agreement on their website so that customers can have paperwork already filled out and ready the night before. This saves the customer time and the store the expense of publishing this information. The customer wins with good information and a time savings and the store wins with a happy customer.
Yes, selling is one way that a website can be used. More importantly though it is a medium for information dissemination and communication. When contemplating a website think about how and what you want want to communicate, not just if you can sell something.
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