by Terry Young
In the 'good old days' of the mid to late 1990s, it was well understood that if a company wanted a professional, competitive web site, this could only be achieved by the costly retaining of web developers to make future changes.
Traditionally, Web companies have made a lot of their incomes by locking a client in to an update contract, telling them that only the designers themselves can ever make changes to a site.
With the initial design costing several thousand dollars, and hundreds per subsequent site change, some very large dollar amounts can result over time.
Larger businesses accepted that this was simply the way it had to be in order to have a successful commercial site, mainly because the development company had told them this.
For smaller companies, this made a professionally designed web site cost-prohibitive. This forced them to settle for less experienced designers, or, as a last resort, to attempt to create a site themselves.
Admittedly, it is ill-advised for clients to attempt updates on a professional site themselves, as disaster can often follow. Prior to 2000, however, we were determined to allow clients to try, so we adapted our site coding to minimize potential damage.
Even these sites required that the client learn some basic HTML coding, graphic manipulation, and uploading of files to the FTP, however.
In 2001, following several client site errors, such as vanishing pages, we decided to address our client's needs from a different angle, and, after some development, we created a system called WebUpdate. By today's standards, WebUpdate was primitive, but it did at least give the client a way to make minor page changes without risking site damage.
The big WebUpdate problem was that the client could only edit one or two pre-determined existing pages, such as 'News' and 'About Us.' The client could not add any new pages or categories, and he or she still needed to learn basic Web design functions for images.
WebUpdate, while being ahead of the main in site capability, still fell far short in the functions we knew our future clients would need to truly be free to manage their sites themselves.
In 2002 we embarked on almost two years of development. We were determined to bring the solution to the next level; we wanted clients to be able to update for themselves, and we wanted more search-engine-friendly programming.
January 2004 saw the launch of WebUpdate2, and its ongoing success showed us that our labors had been worthwhile. WebUpdate2 means that clients no longer have to call us or pay update charges every time they want to change something on their sites.
Pages, text, graphics and even whole categories can be added, changed, moved, hidden or removed in moments, from any computer with an internet connection.
Clients can also upload files, create photo gallery pages, add rotating hints or FAQs to keep the site interesting for visitors, and use site-managed email lists for sending out bulk customer announcements. Add into this the ease of use, with an approximate 30-minute learning curve, and our very successful 1stPage search engine coding; it's easy to see why every business person who has seen this and is serious about the company's competitive web image has signed on immediately.
Terry Young is the founder and CEO of Internet Marketing and Design. Since 1997,