Advanced Websites Design and Development

What is an Advanced Website?

Without getting too technical about what an advanced website actually is, let me explain it by telling you what it isn’t. It isn’t just a brochure website – a few pretty marketing pages dished up in WordPress, which can be done by most web designers (many of whom are basically graphic designers). Advanced websites need the skills of website developers (who are basically software developers), to write a software program (also called a web application) that runs on your business website. Think of South African Airways (booking an airplane ticket online), Discovery Health (registering for Vitality and recording activities for points), Banking websites (logging in and performing transactions), to name but a few.  With Advanced Websites, we don’t just market your products and services, we take your business processes to the next level.

We take the things that would have been done manually in your business and by adding functionality on your website, we basically make these manual processes automated ones.  This gives a business the ability to better measure and control what is going on and to use the information gathered to make further ongoing improvements.  Automating manual tasks frees up time for the employees who had been doing these (often time consuming) tasks manually before.  It makes sense for computers to do what they do best – they don’t mind doing boring, repetitive work and number crunching 24 hours a day (7 days a week, every day of the year) and they do it while making virtually no errors.  Employees can then rather focus on other tasks, which humans are best at, which adds adds more value to the business (e.g. instead of filling in order forms, admin persons could rather be following up on business leads).  Using a bit of imagination, almost any business process can be automated on an advanced website, here are a few examples:

Marketing Processes

  • Product (or service) planning:  Marketing research is vital when planning (or changing) the features for a specific product or service.  An advanced website can provide necessary feedback in a variety of ways, especially when integrated with our survey system, Survey Genius.
  • Advertising: There are many businesses who specialize in email marketing, social media marketing (e.g. for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google Plus, Tumblr, Instagram, Flickr, etc.) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).  Many businesses incorrectly use the term Search Engine Optimization (SEO) when they are actually referring to Search Engine Marketing (SEM) activities.  SEO is a combination of correctly structuring the content on the website (best done by a professional copywriter who specializes in website content) and making sure hidden HTML meta tags on web pages are optimized for search engines (such as Google’s PageRank system).  Since we are technology specialists and not marketing specialists (or graphic designers, or copywriters), we either work together with these specialized businesses when necessary, or we refer businesses to such experts we can recommend.
  •  Other marketing activities: Most activities above relate to advertising in its different forms.  Businesses with a customer focused marketing approach (or holistic marketing approach), can use  an advanced website to achieve much more than just advertising their products or services.  An advanced website is a tool in the marketing department’s hand, which can provide inside information into customer behavior.  For example, by providing incentives for customers (or prospective customers) to register and login, the marketing department can see which products or services specific customers are interested in, even before they decide to purchase a product.  By gathering specific information during the registration process, very specific information becomes available, which can be used (for example) in automated email marketing, targeting potential clients on a very personal and individual level.  This process can be used to influence individual’s decision making, or to gather more information, so a deeper understanding can be gained from consumers’ decision making behavior.  By integrating advanced website functionality with our CRM system, People Genius CRM, or our survey system, Survey Genius, the possibilities becomes almost limitless.

Sales Processes

  • Leads (prospects) follow up:  Usually websites send contact requests to a specific person’s email address, which is where the conventional tracking of the leads stop.  By integrating with People Genius CRM, leads can automatically be created in the CRM system, where management can track the progress and response time for every contact request (business lead or opportunity) received.
  • Product (or service) ordering process:  Standard e-commerce websites typically feature products which can be added to a shopping cart and a checkout process, usually involving a payment process, which usually includes payment methods such as credit card payment.  E-commerce doesn’t have to include the payment process, however.  Also, some businesses’ ordering process is more complicated – e.g. where custom products are manufactured (or acquired) on order, or where products or services aren’t standardized.  In these cases, businesses usually have manual ordering processes, which are usually time consuming for both the client and the sales team.  With an advanced website, these complex ordering processes can be automated, resulting in a cost saving in time (and money) for the business, as well as a more efficient ordering process for clients.  Having an online ordering process available 24/7 usually increases sales – since deals can potentially be made without the business having to do anything.
  • Order processing:  For business who don’t have an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system, an advanced website can be used to manage the order process from the point of receiving orders.  For businesses who have an ERP system, integrating the advanced website with the ERP system, creates improved efficiency, reduction in errors and a potential cost saving.
  • Order tracking:  By integrating an advanced website with the delivery process, real time tracking of orders (and shipping) can be provided to clients – reducing the admin load on a business and improving the customer experience.
  • Service delivery:  Advanced websites can be used to make sure service delivery takes place as promised – by integrating with People Genius CRM, all kinds of tracking methods becomes available.
  • After sales service:  A website is an ideal place to capture positive and negative feedback from clients.  By integrating with People Genius CRM, support cases can be automatically created.  This allows the progress and status of every support case to be tracked by management.  Feedback systems can also be integrated with these support cases, to provide feedback as to the customer satisfaction level for each support case.  Advanced websites can also be customized, to capture additional information about a customer complaint – e.g. photos, classification of defect and any additional information that is necessary to resolve customer issues.  By capturing all info from the beginning, a business can respond better and faster to customer feedback.  It also reduces the admin load on a customer support department and creates a more positive experience:  Instead of having to contact the client to requesting additional information about the problem, the first feedback a client can receive, is how the problem will be remedied.

Supply Chain Management Processes

  • Inventory management:  For businesses without an ERP system, an advanced website can provide the necessary functionality.  Alternatively, custom software systems could be created, integrated with the advanced website.  For businesses with an ERP system, the website can be integrated with the ERP system.
  • Shipping:  Advanced website can be used to manage the shipping process, or be integrated with ERP systems managing the shipping process.
  • Manufacturing:  Advanced websites can be used to automatically feed information to manufacturing and track all kinds of important metrics directly, or via an ERP system (if the business has one).

Just because your business isn’t a big corporate, doesn’t mean it doesn’t need an advanced website. Spoil your customers and get the competitive edge over your competition…

Advantages of Advanced Websites

Over the last few years, we’ve noticed a trend where businesses prefer Advanced Websites for their business systems, over the more traditional desktop computer software programs (Windows applications).  This is due to the many advantages Advanced Websites have to offer:

  • Availability all the time:  Users can use an advanced website (business system) any time.  This means employees can perform most of their required tasks, even outside business hours – even when the business is still locked up.  Clients can also .  This results in a better customer service experience for clients as well.
  • Availability everywhere:  Users can access an advanced websites from anywhere (provided there is internet connectivity).  This means employees can use the business system, even while they are commuting to and from work, while they are travelling for business, even overseas – while they are meeting with a client, on holiday, etc.  For clients, suppliers and other business who might need to interact with your business system, this means they also have access to your business system, 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
  • Potential offline availability:  Using advanced HTML5 features, websites can even be made to still function offline, even while a specific device doesn’t have internet connectivity.
  • Hardware independence: Since advanced websites run on remote web servers and the web browser of the specific user, the business system can be used on any device: any desktop computer (PC or Mac), mobile device, or tablet, of any brand, which is HTML5 compliant.  The HTML5 version of the HTML markup language used in web browsers, published as final in 2014 by the independent W3C web consortium, standardized much of the advanced functionality used in web browsers today and it also reduced dependency on technologies such as Flash, which wasn’t supported on all mobile devices in the past (e.g. iPads and iPhones).  Although HTML5 has radically reduced the amount of compatibility problems, we have found in practice there are still some small compatibility differences, especially if Javascript is used extensively, which sometimes needs to be addressed during testing.
  • Operating system independence:  Since an advanced website runs in the web browser on the device and not in the operating system itself, the advanced website can be used on any operating system, as long as the web browser is one of the web browsers tested for compatibility for the advanced website.
  • Browser independence:  HTML5 has enabled advanced websites to work in almost all web browsers, except for small compatibility issues that still exist.
  • Cost effective hosting:  Many advanced websites can be hosted on shared web servers, for a small annual amount.  This is almost always more affordable than having a server on site at the business premises.  We partner with the best hosting providers in South Africa and provide very competitive rates.
  • No hidden fees: There are very little indirect costs to having an Advanced website:  Besides annual hosting and domain name registration renewal, the only other expenses are the cost of making improvements and resolving problems.
  • No need for onsite servers or hardware:  By hosting via a hosting partner, no servers or other hardware is necessary at the business premises.
  • No need for a hard wired network:  Many businesses have come to the realization that they don’t need a hard wired computer network on site, as long as they can provide internet connectivity for all desktop computers and mobile devices (e.g. via wifi).  Having your business system run remotely, reduces your IT infrastructure needs on site.
  • Reduced IT costs:  By not having a server and hard wired internet computer network, radically reduces the cost of IT for your business.

Why don’t we make Basic Websites?

When our business started out, we dabbled in creating basic entry level websites.   Content Management Systems like WordPress (and Drupal and Joomla) were much more primitive than they are today.  We didn’t want to be limited by CMS systems, so we developed websites from the ground up and implemented some basic CMS functionality of our own (e.g. clients could edit the wording on their web pages) as required.  As CMS systems started to evolve however, we quickly realized that it was difficult to compete cost-wise to these open source solutions developed by volunteers across the world.  So we decided: if you can’t beat them, join them.

At the time Drupal was the most advanced CMS of the top 3 (WordPress, Drupal and Joomla), so we started to use Drupal to design websites (we moved over to WordPress later, when it started to gain momentum).  We quickly became frustrated however.  Within a CMS system you are limited to what you can do and we don’t like to be boxed in.  Their is nothing we love more than assuring our clients ‘yes, we can do that’, no matter how challenging the goal or task may be.  We went back to the drawing board and started evaluating various technology platforms that would give us the freedom we needed, while also freeing us from having to recreate the wheel each time we develop a new website.

After a long evaluation process we found the right technology for the development services we offer and we started to only use Microsoft ASP.NET MVC for creating Advanced Websites and Cloud Systems (programming in the C# language, one of the most used programming languages in the world).  We also started to use Microsoft ASP.NET . for developing PC Software Applications (also in C#) and Microsoft Cordova for creating cross platform Mobile Applications (using standard web technologies such as HTML, CSS and Javascript libraries).

At this point the basic website market became flooded with people offering website design services in WordPress, so we decided to only focus on our niche market:  Advanced websites that require the skills of website developers.

Contact us to discuss your advanced website needs

Contact us for a free consultation meeting, so we can assist you with planning your Advanced Website, to take your business to the next level of success.