Master the Web By the Book
Who should be building your site?
For a very complex site, bring it to your software professionals, advises Andy Musliner, revolution strategist at Century Computing, Laurel, MD (www.appnet.net and www.centurycomputing.com). Century Computing, which was recently acquired by AppNet, Bethesda, MD, leverages the Internet into its clients' businesses (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia, PA, is one of the company's clients).
"When you get into complex Web site development ... you are talking about real, hard-core software development," says Musliner. "If you are going to build a house, don't expect a professional artist to know how to do it." Although, in recent years, technology has become much more acceptable to the lay person, he notes, the minimum one would expect to pay to build an online store is anywhere from $30,000 to $250,000. "So it is equivalent to building a physical store, just in a completely different environment, and you need to recognize that," he says. "A virtual store may be less costly. (But) it's not a panacea, and it's very complex--it requires maintenance; it requires considerable development that you should anticipate."
A recently hired Web developer will create a Web site for Perseus Books Group, including a database usable for the Web and an online catalog page that will be "dynamically generated from that database," says Tobey. Tobey is in the process of developing a group site for the six members of Perseus Book Group: Public Affairs, Basic Books, Perseus Books, Westview Press, Counterpoint Press and Civitas. All publishers, he says, are also developing their own sites independently. According to Tobey, the central feature of the group site is a searchable electronic catalog of all the Group's books. "So a lot of our time has been focused on gathering copy and graphics for the 2,500 or so in-print titles on our lists," says Tobey, "and conforming all of that information into a database that will then serve as the backbone to the online catalog."