The irrepressibly evolving science of Artificial Intelligence – AI – yields a formidably growing catalog of uses, for computer-assisted functions and activities. Just state your needs, and, in no time, a pertinent solution will enrich your computer’s performance.

Analyzing the meteoric rise of the Internet, its monumental success has been completely inevitable. As it evolved, it gradually encompassed all of Man’s endeavors to the extent that today the World Wide Web is involved in every conceivable human activity.Nonetheless, the mainstay of the web is Electronic Commerce. Every conceivable item or service can be found, examined, sold and bought through electronic pages, known as Websites.

From shoes and automobiles to stocks and airline tickets or even hotel reservations can be located and traded on the Net. Millions of commercial establishments, small and big industries, organizations, schools, religious denominations, and even single entrepreneurs coexist peacefully on the World Wide Web. However, their individual success depends on not only the usefulness and quality of their wares or services, but chiefly on the efficacy of their particular Websites. Thus, the design of effective Websites has turned into a new and highly lucrative profession.

In some instances, the advantages of a well-designed Website do quite obviously outweigh most orthodox forms of commerce. In others, the Website designer has to pit his creativeness against the understandably often-desirable advantages of more conventional manners of trade.Now accordingly to the masters of the Web, most anyone can design a site. Moreover, in fulfillment of this truest of democratic traditions, the fees for putting a site on the Web are surprisingly minimal. Thus, equally predictably the number of sites in existence soared virtually overnight into the millions.

This is where the democratic principle appears to have floundered. An overwhelming majority of Website owners discovered that not everyone’s endeavors were crowned with the same astounding success.The failure of the many dozens of do-it-yourself books, and alleged manuals that are sold, all pretending to teach how easy it is to design a Website, only prove that, in fact, the task requires the creative skills of highly innovative, professional operators.

Thus, in the wake of a veritable flood of fiascoes, the freshly minted profession of the specialized Website designer has emerged.A talented site-designer must possess manifold skills. He or she must be able to write good copy, be well versed in applied psychology, have innovative artistic talents, have an essential grasp on pertinent laws and regulations, and, last but not least, also must be a basically competent computer operator.

It is obvious that a really successful Website must effectively focus on the special psychological profile of the targeted customers, on the special goals to be achieved, and on the ease of both navigating the site, and efficiently handling essential communication with the client.In order to comply with these requirements, the first prerequisite determines that a true ivy-league class Website designer must have an absolute grasp of the totality of differences – that is, of all advantages and shortcomings – between Electronic Commerce and every other existing form of trade, from open markets and malls to catalog houses and direct mail. It certainly doesn’t have to be spelled out that the very concept of the Electronic Commerce is a fascinating novelty.

The fundamental responsibility of Website designers consists in perpetuating this fascination. He or she must avoid at all costs that Websites should follow the usual fate of all novelties. With time their glamour fades, their uniqueness wears off, and eventually turn into common events. Thus, a really gifted Website designer must not only be able to grasp the differences between Electronic Commerce and conventional trade, but also be capable to turning these into unquestionable, easy-to-gauge advantages for his or her client.

Moreover, such benefits must be flexible in order to be adaptable with elegant smoothness to the markets’ incessantly fluctuating needs without ever missing a beat. Now let us examine the differences between Electronic Commerce vs Traditional forms of trade. We shall begin by appraising both the chief merits and shortcomings of the conventional forms of trade.Storefront sales offer the evident advantages of allowing:

The hands-on inspection of the merchandise;
The influence of a skilled salesperson;
The usually immediate availability of the goods or service purchased.

The shortcomings of such transactions consist in

The obvious need to spend time and effort in shopping through several stores in order to locate the desired goods and most advantageous prices;
That shopping is often also painfully weather-contingent;
That the buyer usually has to carry the acquired goods;
That the complete process is so time-consuming that the shopping list cannot be entirely completed.

The few advantages worthy of mentioning regarding catalog sales, are

they can be placed from the comfort of the home;
no salesperson is breathing down one’s neck, and the goods are comfortably delivered to the door.

The disadvantage for the customer is that he or she cannot examine the merchandise, but must rely on the catalog descriptions. The merchant is at disadvantage because

his client is beyond his reach and wares cannot be praised in live;
it is an unknown fact whether his client will or will not peruse, or at least scan, the catalog.

TV sales can be quite effective but:

only for very short periods;
only for certain types of goods or services.

Their advantages are so ephemeral that they are not worth of listing.Door-to-door sales – admittedly a great success a hundred years ago – do extremely poorly nowadays, and are even prohibited in many neighborhoods.

Direct mail sales, more appropriately called “junk mail,” bring – particularly since the advent of the Internet – such poor returns that their days are definitely numbered.The value of general advertising – through all the well-known exponents of the media, ranging from print and billboards to radio and TV – is certainly undeniable. Nonetheless, none of its modalities – except the meager harvest on TV sales channels – create immediate direct sales. General advertising is also very informative and quite effective in boosting sales through all available functioning outlets.

Thus, the media plays an important role in the design of every Website and, consequently in the success of their owners.Having skimmed through the highlights of the most commonly known forms of trade, let us now scrutinize the prime appeal of Electronic Commerce.

However, before we examine its uncommon allure, let us take a look at its very few caveats.The main objections of the antagonists to Electronic Commerce focus on the undeniable fact the in the last two years the number of sites soared into the millions. How can one expect – they ask – to be noticed in such a conglomeration? For those who just aimlessly “surf” the net, the objection is sustainable. However, the corporations or serious businessmen who launch their Websites with clearly designated goals, are definitely not interested in the “surfers”, and their Websites, equipped with all the state-of-the-art software refinements, can be located, with utmost ease by all interested parties.

The design of a highly effective Website is not inexpensive. And this is good. Because, precisely due to the inexpensive fee to put a page on the net, there are many thousands of dilettantes, crackpots and such who pollute the net. The powerful search-engines roaming the net ensure that each skillfully created Website is extremely easy to find by those who are genuinely interested in what they offer or cover. The design involves a lot of high-precision work and techniques. The designer is also in charge of activating the site and sign the client up for monitoring its effectiveness.

The designer also provides means of promoting the Website on the entire Net. So, just like in any field, a masterpiece is expensive.Now lets examine the essential virtues of such a masterpiece. A well designed Website:

Allows the consumer to go “interactive” while browsing through the pages of the site.
Offers the possibility to view audible and animated goods or services. Thus, the success of a viewing “session” is enormously enhanced by the skill of the design.
Permits the consumer to realize the transaction, virtually unaided. from choosing the products to which payment method. This makes him or her feel secure and confident.

The ease of locating a particular Website is superb. There are hundreds powerful search-engines active across the Web, encompassing the entire planet. You don’t have to haunt the Yellow Pages for a topic. Typing a few key-words in your browser,and the system projects the most appropriate sites on your screen, usually in a few seconds. This service is free for the user.

The technical flexibility of a Website is unrivaled. It can be used virtually for any purpose with unparalleled success. May they be goods or services, politics or religion, a Website can be designed for its particular purpose. Thus, ultimately not even the sky’s the limit for the success of a Website. Only its design.What else remains to be said? Oh. I almost forgot. To peruse a Website, you do need a computer…

Anthony Acosta PhD
Questions or Comments on this article should be directed to anthony@kennedymedia.com
This Article was first published in 1/19/1999.