Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio August
BY RODMAN MARYMOR, CMP, AND
JEFFREY RASCO, CMP
Now that your site is up and running, here's how to keep it
Web sites are now a fact of life for most
companies and associations. They are used for everything from
simple branding and identity to full-featured e-commerce solutions.
However, no matter what the size or scope, setting up a Web site is
easy compared to keeping it going - and growing.
Maintaining simple Web sites composed of static pages can
usually be handled internally. Select the right person with the
time and technical skills, and provide the software and hardware
tools to get the job done. If you just need to keep photos current,
update e-mail addresses or periodically tweak text, then this
in-house approach is sensible.
Massaging dynamic, interactive Web sites is a different story.
These sites have databases, calendars, newsletters, catalogs,
forums and chat sections, secure online event registration and
other areas that allow everything from data services to real-time
transactions. When your site grows to this level, you need grown-up
maintenance and support. You can accomplish this in a few ways.
When you've poured good money into a medium or large Web site,
budget for a full-time overseer. Larger sites that have diverse
ingredients require a specialist. Your Webmaster should make the
pages look good and the features perform correctly. A good
Webmaster also is a proactive force in the continuing development
of your site. You may have a killer site today, but unless you
regularly implement new technologies, the site will rust beyond
recognition, to your competition's delight. Keep your Webmaster in
touch with the latest industry developments, publications and Web
If your Webmaster is in-house, provide good hardware and the
latest versions of software to do the job. You will need to make
constant purchases of software upgrades and new product releases,
and be sure to buy a new computer - or upgrade your current hard
drive - every nine to 12 months to keep everything running better
If you are comfortable outsourcing your site management to a
third party, let them worry about what hardware, software, books
and magazines, consulting services and educational workshops will
keep the pumps churning. Either way, comprehensive site
maintenance, management and enhancement services are expensive and
As a user, think of how you now are able to fly through the
Internet with the greatest of ease. The same technologies that
enable you to communicate with a Web page - interactive forms,
databases, links - are now used to create built-in Web-based
administrative applications. These tools easily can handle the
day-to-day upkeep of even the largest site. The site developers,
however, don't want to lose the maintenance business, so they're
not creating many products for you to do the job yourself.
One, Relevant (www.ensemble. com), uses cutting-edge xml
technology to create complex Web sites and build pages on the fly,
and a simple user-defined query builds Web pages with content drawn
from live newsfeeds and other resources. Anyone can easily manage
catalog items and real-time inventory in an online store, as well
as gather information from site visitors. It doesn't come cheap,
though: The license costs $10,000.
We use a product we developed called EZapps
(www.cardinalweb.com) to create and update conference and event
calendars, edit news, add links, work with online databases and
handle secure online registration transactions.
Inexpensive, Fast, Easy and Effective
With this new approach to Web site management, all you need is a
regular computer with a decent browser (Navigator or Internet
Explorer) and an adequate Internet connection; no need for an
in-house Webmaster armed with piles of software programs. The
applications themselves are Web page templates that require text
entry or simple Windows navigation to place graphics. Database
maintenance operations require no programming skills whatsoever.
And the operations are pre-programmed into the applications, so
when you make a change, the simple click of an edit icon rebuilds
the page with the updated information.
As Web-based administrative applications become more prevalent,
the need for dedicated Webmaster services hopefully will diminish.
Maybe then the talented Webmasters of today will be able to
concentrate on developing technologies that will continue this
astounding evolution that has taken the meetings industry, and the
world, by storm.Rodman Marymor, CMP, and
Jeffrey Rasco, CMP, are partners in San Francisco and Austin,
Texas-based HMR Associates, providing technology solutions for the
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