Owner of the Small Art Business Essay

Pages: 6 (1791 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Education - Computers

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¶ … owner of the small art business would like to begin selling paintings over the Internet. Whole books are written on this, but as web developer and system's administrator, I can give her a few steps that will lead her through the business.

Hosting operations

She can find someone to host the site for her, but it is more likely that she will host the site herself. This is due to the fact that she is presumably intent on running her business long-term. There is a lot of freeware to help her do so.

The first step to hosting her own site is picking an Internet Service Provider (ISP). The major difference between an ISP and a hosting service is that the ISP does not offer extra services such as site statistics, backup, and so forth.

Questions that need to be asked when choosing an ISP include the following:

The types of connections offered; the access range (presumably, the artist needs worldwide access); the amount of Internet Points of Presence (POP); the types of switches and routers; the type of firewall system used; additional services (such as site analysis, installation, domain registration services, hosting services, and electronic transactions services); and the hours and charges for tech support.

Being that this seems like a small site, if the business is located in a metropolitan area the owner can connect herself to ISDN via her telephone company. The speed of ISDN adequately supports a small site, particularly if she doesn't intend to keep her site open 24 hours per day. If the online store expands, she can always consider looking into large-scale ISPs later one.

A domain name

The domain name is the Internet name accorded to her business ending in. com. The domain name needs to be registered with the InterNIC . Registration with the InterNIC costs $100 upfront with an annual $50 fee. Availability of name can be checked at www.vi.net (European) or at the InterNIC Registration service (rs.internic.net/rs-internic.html.). Register yourself at the InterNIC as one of the contacts for her domain.

Bandwidth

The more bandwidth the site possesses, the more speedy and effective the owner's communication with clients. For a very fast response time for approximately 3 customers at one time, she should consider a R1 line ($1,000-$3,000 per month). For this small art store, however, an ISDN ($300-$600 per month) seems fine. This is twice the bandwidth that one receives from a normal telephone line and provides a decent response to 3 or 4 customers at one time. ISDN is particularly useful since the online business is only open part of the time as adjunct to the offline site. More bandwidth can be purchased later if and as necessary.

Hardware

Theoretically, the owner can install her Web server software, database with images of paintings, HTML pages, and any other information she may need on one server machine, hook it up to the Internet and start selling her paintings. The only things she actually needs are the following: her server machine, including disk storage, backup devices, printer, monitor, scanner, digital camera, and other peripherals of her choice, an operating system, and her web server software. She would also need an account at an ISP with the right bandwidth; equipment for her Internet connection, such as a converter box for ISP. Given the size of her business, a single machine is sufficient.

Choices for server platforms are Windows 95 and Windows NT; UNIX (various versions); Mac OS. Presumably, she has all her hardware in place since the assignment mentions a computer system that the owner wishes to link her paintings too. She is not, therefore, starting from rock bottom. She may also consider a workgroup server that handles several users simultaneously and is, therefore, ideal for a small business. It is a very fast computer giving customers quick response time; has high RAM, and possesses the capability of expansion to 2-processor configurations, which can enable her to handle more customers at the same time.

Firewall

The firewall acts as security protecting the information stored on the site such as the customers' names and their credit care information. It often accompanies the site's router. High -- end firewalls can range from $18,00 upwards. The average price is between $200-$3,000.

RAID (redundant array of inexpensive disks) is a special set of disk drives that makes it less likely that the store will lose information and is recommended as stable foundation for the manager as added protection for her store particularly so in the case of a bad disc failure.

Alternative Internet Connection Devices may be an alternative to consider particularly if the manger needs a small web site, and has little expertise in running it. Essentially, this site will need quite a bit of hardware horsepower particularly since she is also selling images (paintings) in addition to showcasing text and is expecting to interact with her customers. She therefore needs to select a competent server that can adequately handle the contents of her site and the number of expected customers.

Server software

Aside from delivering content to customers, server software will also control, limit, and monitor access to the site by individual users and groups. She can keep track of the visitors and of their purchases, as well as letting her know who her customers are. This will also help her in case of a security breach. Software can also place and update pages automatically; can create and publish documents on the site; can support the database tool; can manage the site remotely by signing the Web browser; and can conduct secure electronic commerce.

One of the most popular software products is those produced by Netscape server. (www.netscape.com). Microsoft, although more complex, can be another option. AOL is particularly good for small to medium-sized business therefore may be appropriate in this instance. There are many other server soft wares and server solutions which run beyond the scope of these pages. Analysis will be applied to all and careful consideration applied before final choice is made.

Online basic buying tools

The products include everything the owner needs to showcase her paintings, as well as all that she needs to sell them. This includes: HTML for product descriptions; CGI scripts of the shopping cart; web-based forms for ordering; a database for keeping track of products and customers.

There is a two-part transaction system. The one part handles payment through the secure server or thoguh an online payment processing service such as Cyber Cash, First Virtual, Check Free, or Open market. The other part of the transaction system logs the transactions into the store's database which tracks the individual transactions for record keeping purposes.

Internship Online is a recommended service to consider since it has everything to get the online store up and running. It is far easier than starting from scratch and may actually save the manager money on consulting fees. Outreach communications (www.outreach.com) is another excellent product that sells Internet Store Manager for $3,495. It is for those whose budget is small but need secure, real-time credit card transaction service without a hosting service.

Maintaining the site

The owner's goals are to design her site so that it is easy to manage; make sure that the customers get reasonable response time; back up her site often; and create a regular schedule for site updates.

Several tools can help out with maintaining the site. These include Adobe SiteMill (www.adobe.com); NetObjects Fusion (www.betopbjects.com); and Microsoft FrontPage (www.microsfot.com).

Regarding backups the best advice is to create a schedule for backups and stick to it as well as to keep two complete sets of backup tapes.

Tracking visitors

The Web server automatically generates site log file which contains information about who visited the site and when. The log files should be renamed daily for ease if sorting out site statistics.

The server needs to be maintained too. The Windows NT server would be recommended for this business since it serves small to medium-sized sites.

Managing site traffic

It is recommended to keep site traffic balanced so that all visitors get good response time when visiting the online store. Some areas of the site may attract more visitors than other areas. There are several techniques for making those frequently visited areas more accessible to the customer, for instance by creating a special URL that will get people to that part of the site quickly. 'Mirroring' can also be used but that is most recommended for when the site grows and business becomes busy. A larger budget would also be useful here. These tools such as mirrioring would provide the manager with the ability to enable certain customers to log into a secure area to access monthly specials. Each time the owner changes the way her local network is configured in order to improve traffic flows, she will need to alter her network configuration files to deal with her new situation. This can be done by mirroring and/or by creating and deleting host name files.

Establishing site traffic… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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