Evolving Your Website

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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on April 19, 2000. All rights reserved.

Princeton: Dot.Com Capital?

Statistics can supposedly be used to prove anything.

In that light we report that Princeton ranked number one last year

in the registration of domain names, according to Network Solutions,

the world leader in Internet registrations of .com, .net, .org and

.edu domain names. On a per capita basis, Princeton came in above

such notable dotcom cities as Palo Alto, California, in the number

of domain names registered in 1999. On a straight numbers basis, New

York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco registered the most names.

The Network Solutions’ view of Princeton as a "city"

contrasts with Trenton as a "metro area." San Francisco and

Stamford/Norwalk Connecticut are one and two in the metro area rankings,

while the Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon triangle is 22 and Trenton

is 25.

The state of New Jersey ranked sixth in the nation behind California,

New York, and Texas in number of sites registered. On a per capita

basis, the state is number 10 in domain name registrations, with District

of Columbia and California placing first and second.

The firm does not release actual numbers. In fact, though it pioneered

the development of registering Web addresses, this is the first-ever

ranking of website registration statistics. They can be found at www.nsol.com/statistics.

Gathered from Network Solutions’ registrations, the data is updated

monthly. In March the company was bought by VeriSign Inc. to create

the "world’s largest provider of Internet Trust Services."

As for the kinds of businesses that registered domain names for the

first time — attorneys, real estate firms, and churches head the

list for the past two years. New to the top 25 this year were dentists,

commercial photographers, and real estate loan companies. New car

dealers bumped computer equipment dealers from the top 10.

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Evolving Your Website

E-mail: MelindaSherwood@princetoninfo.com

In 1996, you heard about the World Wide Web. In 1997,

you considered putting up a website. When 1998 rolled around, your

business needed a website, but it’s April, 2000, now — has your

website evolved?

For many small businesses owners, the answer is no, and that may be

hurting them, says Jon Zack, founder of an Internet boutique

called Need2Know.com in Flemington. "Most companies are dabbling,

and doing more harm than good," he says. "It’s kind of like

deciding to put one ad in a newspaper and saying if that doesn’t work,

we’re not going to do it again."

What commonly happens, says Zack, is that a company attracts customers

to its website but doesn’t provide enough information to make a sale.

As a result, customers move on to the next business that does provide

complete information over the Web. Zack tells business owners how

they can implement an effective website without all the bells and

whistles at a seminar entitled "The Internet, E-Commerce, and

Your Business," on Tuesday, April 25, at 8 a.m. at the Redwood

Inn in Bridgewater. Call 908-231-1000. Cost: $79.

A native of Edison, Zack is a self-taught business consultant who

has worked with area companies for the past 15 years. In 1989, he

helped several appliance and electronics companies including Quotaphone,

United Buying Service, and DMI launch a national distribution network

on the first E-commerce platforms by Compuserve and Prodigy. He founded

Need2Know in 1995.

Need2Know works with small and medium-sized businesses on developing

E-commerce strategies and a Web presence, and more often than not

helps businesses reevaluate their overall strategy in a market that

has been drastically changed by the Internet itself. "Two out

of three people that we meet are doing business but they don’t really

know why," says Zack. "They don’t understand the market, and

they’re suddenly getting rattled."

Developing a complex back-end order system or flashy website is out

of the question for many small businesses, but it’s also unnecessary

to think in those terms, says Zack. "They don’t need to think

about going on it full tilt, but they should have some presence. A

small company should realize that they need to be there for advertising."

Zack’s suggestions:

Determine the goal of your website. "The biggest shortcoming

of small businesses is that they think it’s all design," he says.

"The most important thing is what are you trying to do, what’s

the goal of the website." A website is not a brochure online,

offering generic information. A website should give very detailed

information on your product. "If you don’t provide that to them,

they’ll find someone who does," says Zack.

Use your website to support your traditional advertising.

"It’s a lot cheaper than doing a four-color brochure," says

Zack, "and it’s something you can always change." Most companies

don’t do a good job at linking their sites with other vendors, and

it’s the most effective way of using the Internet for no dollars,

says Zack.

Don’t go halfway. "If you’re going to do it, have

a goal or strategy, no matter how much you plan to spend," he

says. "Otherwise, you’re going to be wasting money.

"If anybody is not looking at the Internet," adds Zack,

"they’re not taking their business seriously, and if they’re not

doing that, most likely they’re not going to be in business in the

future."

— Melinda Sherwood


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