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Keep the content keen and relevant.

There seems to be a growing chorus of opinion that having a website is a waste of time, and for the on-line brochure that seems to comprise many organisation's effort this is invariably true.

But while an on-line brochure may be a waste of time, it doesn't waste you much money - about a grand will sort you out with the site, and by throwing the odd hundred quid at it now and again you won't burn too much of a hole in your marketing budget.

It's also an opportunity to test the virtual waters before committing to a fullown presence.

Even for those at stage one, however, there is one golden rule: "content is king".

It doesn't matter how many designer hours are invested in a site to make it look pretty - if it lacks useful content then no one will visit it - well at least not more than once.

Content should also change as often as possible. Even a newspaper, which is far more user-friendly than a computer, can't compete with a website which can be changed as soon as events dictate. Any information on a website should, therefore, be bang up to date.

Why so many sites are left languishing past their sely-date is a mystery to me. I guess that the Internet enthusiast who first posted the site has left the company along with any understanding of the potential of the site and the know-how of changing it.

The Internet industry is perhaps guilty of encouraging static pages. Sell a quick website to an eager punter then forget about him.

Those customers who know their site has to change daily are presented with very expensive "backend solutions" involving hooks into corporate databases and document management systems.

Security then rears its ugly head and another shipload of expensive firewall software is offered along with consultancy fees which keep people like me in clover.

However, there are simple solutions which allow non-technical users to update websites with ease. Emailing updates to robot software running on an external web server for instance negating the need for fancy security.

One common solution is to create a private part of the site accessible only by password. Form and menu-based utilities give the ability to add and remove content safely and without any HTML knowledge.

Of course you could ask your web provider to alter things manually but you will soon run up a large bill and get fed up spending every day on the phone to them.

The other alternative is to let your own IT department make the changes. However, their understanding of the media may be lacking and in any case they are the wrong people to create content. It is the marketing department which should be in control.

So when commissioning a website ask yourself how easy it will be to change content. And choose a provider who can come up with a simple solution that allows your non-technical staff to alter pages direct.

Remember, there is only one thing more pointless than a poor website, and that's an out of date one.

Chris is a director of Birmingham Internet company WebXpress and can be contacted on 0121 244 8800 or email - previous articles can be found at
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 19, 1998
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