Commercial Websites: A Focus on the Essential

Commercial Websites: A Focus on the Essential

Alexandre Ferreira (Beira Interior University, Portugal) and Francisco Antunes (Beira Interior University, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9787-4.ch030

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Even “small online business” (with non-transactional websites, consisting of approximately 10 – 20 pages with some basic content management and social media widgets), incur in costs associated with designing, developing and building a website. Just to report some indicative numbers (for some interesting data please see:, for instance), a small business will normally contact a Web developer to discuss the site content and design, with the developer offering a quote to deliver the site. Non-transactional sites can be delivered in a huge range of budgets. A five-page small-business site could cost as little as $500, while a five-page site for a major firm could have a $100,000 budget. The difference in budget relates to the complexity of design, cost of custom photography, motion graphics, animation and interactive tools. A simple but professional non-transactional website can usually be produced starting at $2,500, plus basic Web hosting.

When referring to transactional websites, costs can increase quite drastically with every extra functionality or modules of functionalities. A Custom Content Management System cost – for clients who want to manage their own content – can range from $2,000 to $20,000, while the costs of e-commerce shopping carts, catalogs, payment processing range from $1,500 to $5,000 (or more, depending on requirements) and the creation and management of a social media network profile such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn etc., range from $500 to $2,000.

In spite of the fact that it is expectable to pay a lot more on a brick and mortar retail shop (which include inventory, interior design, furniture, rent, utilities, staff, equipment, insurance, etc.), the presented numbers (that do not include any maintenance costs) are not irrelevant, especially when it concerns businesses (small or not) baring financial restrictions.

As the success of a commercial internet presence is strongly affected by its functionalities, it is important to find out which of available functionalities for a commercial internet presence (or commercial website) are more relevant to online buyers, thus helping managers to prioritize their website investments (whether reducing software development costs or software acquisition costs) and aiding them to make the decision to spend the money where it counts more, according to their financial restrictions.

The novelty of this research is a science-based prioritization of the functionalities that can be implemented on websites, according to a rationale based on the perceived importance of online consumers (or e-consumers), regarding web shopping (rather than mere “gut-feelings” or even misleading advertising from web design companies). The intents of this research aim at a deeper understanding of online shopping in general and Portuguese online shopping, in particular.

As online shopping refers to a non-presencial environment, the interaction between costumers and online sellers relies on the available functionalities of the commercial presence solutions, which try to mimic human interaction. Nevertheless, there is no consensus on how to classify or to aggregate any possible functionality to implement within a commercial internet presence (which we will refer, so forth, simply as web presence) and it is recognized that the proper design of the functionalities is directly related to a web presence success (Ramanathan, 2010; Tucker, 2008).

To this matter, rather than describing which functionalities a web presence should provide, literature focus much more on describing large sets of functionalities or abstract attributes that should be implemented, thus lacking a greater level of detail. Within this context, this work sets out to bridge the gap between literature review and the need to aid people (i.e. managers and programmers) in choosing the right functionalities to implement a proper and rational web presence of a company. In addition, it is also intended to help developers in adjusting software packages, according to the possibility for a wider modular offer, adapted to the needs of very small businesses or to the ones of large corporations, trying to reduce risks and promote sustainability of web presences (Alt & Klein, 2011).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Functionality: A piece of software, which provides the ability to interact with a computer mediated environment.

Essential: Quality of being absolutely necessary or indispensable.

Transactional: A personal interaction involving people or a software mediated communication.

Online: Anything which is accessible via a computer or computer network.

Accessory: Quality of something nonessential but desirable that contributes to an effect or result.

Commercial: An activity embracing all forms of the purchase and sale of goods and services.

Perception: The act or faculty of apprehending by means of the senses or the mind.

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