With the dramatic expansion of the Internet, competition for surfers has become more and more fierce. Today’s Web sites need to have more than just information and products to attract a customer; they now need interactivity, they need an angle.
Running Start Inc. is hoping to give companies an edge by adding portal technology to its Web content management system, ArticleBASE. This addition allows a site to include a wide variety activities to entice a visitor to stay.
“The portal extensions add a common set of things that people would want,” said Ralph Zazula, president and CEO of Running Start.
“We give people bulletin boards, chat rooms, the ability to group content, surveys, contests and polls,” he continued. The true interactivity of the Web also goes farther than many Web users are aware of. A lot of polls gathered by Web sites are used to accumulate marketing information on users, according to Zazula.
But this collection of information is not intrinsically bad, he said, since they can also allow a site to be more responsive to its visitors. If a company, for instance, monitors its bulletin boards it can see what people are saying and react accordingly.
“So if 10 news stories have really active bulletin boards, you can emulate it or find out what people are saying, or correct things,” Zazula added.
Though the ability to add more interactivity is a plus, it is not the lone strength of the product, said Tony Henning, senior analyst at The Future Image Report in San Mateo, Calif.
“I thought maybe the most impressive piece about it was the Workflow…the ability to integrate the process of managing a large complex Web site, and all of its diverse pieces of content, and all of the review and revision processes that typically have to take place before it goes live,” Henning said.
He added that this is a problem that a lot of Web sites really haven’t addressed. “Any time there are things that point to a mismanaged or infrequently revised Web site it makes a very bad impression.” He cited as an example a visit to a site that has a Christmas special still available on the 26th of December. Workflow would help people keep on top of their sites, Henning said.
Zazula said ArticleBASE can solve this type of problem by helping a company manage and create its site more effectively.
“We divide things up so the graphics folks can create templates and live in that world, and the managers – the folks who know the business – can use a form and enter in the content,” he said.
David Barrett, CEO of R/com, a media school in Corona del Mar Calif., likes ArticleBASE for another reason. “One of the reason we choose ArticleBASE is that it is infinitely scaleable,” he said. He said that this scalability is extremely important since R/com is a completely virtual school with content changing quickly and constantly. The school offers certificates in such areas as Web design and video production. Barrett also likes the fact it works on a variety of platforms and databases.
Zazula said that of the millions of Web sites in existence only a handful have content management systems. Undoubtedly some are far too small to merit investing in this product, but there is still a large market for this sort of technology, according to Henning.
“This (ArticleBASE) would appeal to companies that really can’t afford to set up each of those services themselves or can’t afford to buy best of breed e-mail, chat room and try to integrate them [because they] don’t have either the expertise or the budget,” he said.
ArticleBASE version 2.0 (www.running-start.com) works with Windows NT, Sun Solaris and Mac OS X Server as well as Oracle, Sybase and Microsoft SQL Server databases, and is priced starting at US$25,000 per server for intranet deployment and up to US$100,000 for enterprise servers. Portal extensions are US$75,000.
Running Start in Tucson, Ariz., is at (520) 296-3370.