Some organizations are happy with a static site with pages that are not interactive — they simply present information as if the user was reading a brochure. For others, a high level of interactivity is needed as the web site is intended to play an integral role in conducting business or administering the organization. Some of the most commonly requested interactive web site functions are listed below:
Application Service Providers (ASPs) - Member-based organizations are typical of organizations that could benefit from online management functionality such as searchable directories, membership renewal features, fundraising tracking and email newsletters. In most cases, ASPs can provide an excellent way to gain functionality quickly. Read more about ASPs and how we can help you find the best one for your needs.
Bulletin Boards - This is a place on your site where customers can post questions and have discussion groups.
Blogs - A blog is basically a journal that is available on the web. A relatively new phenomenon, blogs are growing in popularity for businesses. Blogs are updated on a regular basis using online software that non-technical people can use. Postings are typically arranged in chronological order with the most recent addition first. Blogs that include informative and educational postings may encourage more traffic as you position your business as an expert in your field. Blogs help improve a site’s search engine ranking as the regularly updated content raises how high the site is ranked.
Content Management Systems (CMS) - Sites built with CMS allow for content updates and changes without knowledge of HTML. Site content and page templates are built into a database that generates pages as they are requested by site visitors. Blog sites use CMS providers (such as blogger.com, expressionengine.com, bloglines.com, wordpress.com and others) to provide this functionality. CMS providers range from no charge (e.g. blogger.com) to highly robust and expensive solutions. We can help you decide if a CMS system is right for your site and how you would like to maintain its content. Sites built without CMS can use programs like Macromedia Contribute to perform content updates.
E-newsletters - E-newsletters allow you to be in touch with your customers on a regular basis to drive repeat and referral business. Your site can allow for subscribing and unsubscribing of e-newsletter readers without your daily involvement. For more information, see our email marketing page.
E-commerce - Product-oriented businesses, member-driven organizations and organizations who offer events or training may consider adding e-commerce so customers can buy products, join or register online. The options and costs for doing this vary according to a number of factors, including what your web site host offers in this area. It is often best to choose a host after you have decided which option works for you and your budget. See more information on ecommerce options.
Online Surveys - As the front door to your business, surveys are an excellent tool for quickly gathering customer input and establishing a two-way dialogue with your audience. Although free services exist to conduct online surveys, they are usually limited by the number of questions and/or how many people can respond. In addition, these standalone surveys will not have the look and feel of your web site or brand.
XO.com (one of our recommended hosts) has a survey that can be added to your site (must be hosted with xo.com) with our help. The advantage to doing a survey this way is that the look and feel of the survey page can be matched to your existing site.
If you have other ideas about things not mentioned here that you want to see on your site (appointment scheduling, online association/membership management, event calendars, etc.), let’s talk.