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Today almost every business is expected to have some sort of web presence. The World Wide Web and the Internet are quickly becoming a daily part of our lives. More and more frequently people turn to the Internet for work and relaxation. We perform research, gather information, make purchases, and communicate using this new medium. Admittedly, not every business will conduct commerce online—but that doesn't mean that a web presence is unnecessary.

The web is fast supplanting the phone book as the means of getting fast information about a business: where is it located, how do I get there, what are the hours of operation, are there any special offers or discounts available? It's much easier for a prospective client to get all of this information and more by visiting your web site than say, digging out the Yellow Pages, looking up your listing, and dialing only to get an answering machine or an automated attendant.

If your business is listed in the phone book then you need a web presence. A basic web site and its benefits can be very affordable when compared to a basic advertisement in a phone directory.

Web site design and development

Beacon Technical Services can provide your business with a professional and unique online presence. Your web site will be designed to match the character and flavor of your business. You can build a website yourself using inexpensive consumer software or free online templates, but your site will look like that's exactly what you did. If the image of your business is important to you ask about our web site design and development services.

Web site hosting

A web site host is simply a computer that hosts web sites. Almost any computer with an Internet connection can host a web site. If fact, many personal and hobby-type sites are hosted on the owners' personal computer in their homes. This isn't ideal for a business site, however. For one, you need an "always on" Internet connection, like cable or DSL. If you use dial-up connectivity, then when your computer is not connected to the Internet your customers can't get to your site. In order to use your own domain name for the site your Internet service needs to provide you with a static (non-changing) address—many types of Internet service accounts don't provide this feature. Then there are the considerations of uptime, maintenance, hacking and viruses. Beacon Technical Services can provide you with competitively priced web hosting that eliminates those headaches for you.

Domain name registration

A domain name is your company's identity and address on the web. With your own domain name your web site is "www.mycompany.com" and your email is addressed to "theboss@mycompany.com." That is much more impressive to your customers than saying, "My company's web site is at www.freebizwebs.com/freebie/X234/~mycompany/." Do you really want your email address to be a plug for AOL, or Yahoo, or Hotmail, when you can be plugging your own business? Our domain registration services are reliable and inexpensive–even free when combined with other service options.

Beacon is here to provide full service care for your Internet needs, but for customers who prefer a "hands-on" approach, please feel free to register your domains with our self-service domain site. The choice is yours—DIY or let us do it for you.

Email administration

When you have your own domain name you have control over your business email. No longer will your salespeople need to use their personal email accounts with your customers. When someone leaves your organization you don't want to worry that new prospects are still being addressed to "bigbill245@aol.com." With our email administration service you can rest assured that business email is under your control. Beacon Technical Services will set up new accounts when you need them, disable old accounts, and ensure nothing gets lost. We can establish role-specific addresses, like "sales@mycompany.com" and make sure it ends up in your salespeoples' inbox. Included with this administration service is an alert system to notify your users of new email-borne threats, like viruses and worms, that can damage your computers or network.

Digital newsletters and online community building

Digital newsletters and online communities are two of the most effective means that a business can use to keep customers and prospects coming back to their site. Whether you use your web site for online commerce or just to keep customers informed you may want to consider this form of "sticky" advertising. Your customers can subscribe to your digital newsletter and have it delivered to their email inbox on a regular schedule. Normally, the newsletter contains a short feature article of interest to the customers you want to attract and several "teasers" to more articles. Each item in the newsletter contains a link back your web site. For example, a newsletter for a financial services company may describe a type of investment that is currently being touted in the national financial news media. The link from this article could direct your customers directly to a page on your web site describing how your business can provide this investment for their portfolio. Don't worry about creating a newsletter. Beacon's seasoned professional writers will make sure that your newsletters are polished and interesting.

An online community is a slightly more intensive undertaking, but can be very worthwhile for certain types of businesses. Let's say you own a hobby shop or a crafts store. Beacon can set aside an area of your web site where customers can discuss their projects, offering helpful tips to novices. This page can provide internal advertisements to the products that you offer. To make your site's online community even more effective, Beacon Technical Services can train one of your employees to moderate the community. The moderator keeps the community focused, acts as a knowledgable "guru," answering questions about specific products and their use, and guides customers to the right products.

Intranets and Extranets

Intranets and extranets operate very much like the Internet but they have a much narrower audience of users. Your Internet web site is open to the world and you want it to be easy for as many people as possible to get to it. With an intranet you want tight control over the site and you only want certain people—your employees—to have access to it. An intranet is where you might keep company policies and procedures, proprietary information, contact lists, vendor and supplier information, shared documents, customer information, etc. Basically, these are the things that are essential to the operation of your business, but not things that you want to share with the world. An intranet server can be inexpensively hosted on your office's network. There's no need for a domain name or guaranteed uptime if you don't require it. An intranet enables your employees to have the information they need at their desktops when they need it. It can be a significant efficiency boost to your office.

An extranet is similar but with a focus on clients or suppliers with whom you want to exchange privileged information. An extranet is located on the Internet but relies on secure access to ensure that only authorized users can enter. If you already have a registered domain name you can share it with your extranet. That way you use "www.mycompany.com" for the Internet and something like "extranet.mycompany.com" for your extranet.

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