Web sites are the business cards of the 21st century

Last updated on June 8th, 2022 at 09:29 am

Business owners understand the importance of a creative, user-friendly Web site when Maelstrom Solutions compares a Web site to a business card.
Both provide a first and lasting impression on a potential customer, and visitors increasingly tend not to trust companies with Web sites that appear to be under-developed or are hard to navigate, according to Scott Detweiler, president of the Brookfield-based technology development company.
If businesses understand the impressions created by business cards printed on perforated paper, Detweiler asks, why would they spend money to build a Web site that is difficult to navigate and is not kept up to date?
Maelstrom’s Tsunami Content Engine can be the answer for many small and medium-sized businesses that do not have a large budget or technical staff, but whose Web presence can potentially increase the revenue and attention they are seeking, learn more from the best web design agencies like WebBox Cardiff.
Maelstrom is in the process of changing the name of the product after the Asian tsunami disaster that killed thousands in December, Detweiler said.
“Small to medium-sized companies have similar problems with their Web sites,” he said. “The site is ugly. The designers do not have an artist on board. No one can find the site, etc. Tsunami solves all of the problems a Web site may have.”
Maelstrom’s developers design the look and feel of a Web site and optimize it with tricks of the trade that get a site noticed. For example, some content
on Flash sites cannot be read by search engines because Flash is treated as a graphic, Detweiler said.
Tsunami is a content management system (CMS) that replaces the need for a Web developer or an employee in the office assigned the job of updating the site. Tsunami has no limit to the number of users that have set up accounts on the site, and changes can be made on demand, Detweiler said.
Once the general site design is finished, it is up to the customer to fill in and control the content, Detweiler said.
The content and the design of a Web site using Tsunami are separate until they merge online. Maelstrom designs the look and feel of a site, and the customer uploads and creates the content in a built-in editor program.
No Web site created by Maelstrom looks alike, Detweiler said. The design of a page without content is called the skin, and Maelstrom creates multiple custom skins for each customer. Designated internal users of the site can log in and change the font, color, size and content of a text box or add graphics and photos.
Customers can work with Maelstrom to create themed skins for the site.
For example, Milwaukee-based AIS Technology, a Maelstrom customer, is in the process of developing a different skin for every holiday, said AIS Technology owner Nick Oliver.
“Either on a scheduled or a manual basis, I can change the skin to have a leprechaun theme on St. Patrick’s Day and do the same for Halloween,” Oliver said.
AIS specializes in technology solutions for independent insurance agencies. The Web site for AIS is an informational and promotional site with a component that enables current customers, or insurance agencies, to log in for personalized updates that are not visible to the public.
“You can configure the site from wherever you are,” Oliver said. “I can update the content while I am out of the state, and I can post a new technology that would be of interest to my clients. It is easier than having to come back to the office to make changes.”
The initial cost for Maelstrom’s Web site development service and the implementation of Tsunami, which Maelstrom hosts, ranges from $3,500 to $5,000. After the implementation, businesses pay $125 per month with no contract, Detweiler said.
Tsunami gives customers an added advantage for the new features of a Web site that are important for marketing purposes and search engine optimization, Detweiler said. Thread discussions and blogs, which are included in the Tsunami package, are critical for Web sites, Detweiler said.
If companies wish to have a secure private network or an e-commerce site, both are available. Any updates or features Maelstrom adds to the system are automatically available to current customers at no charge, and companies in need of support are only charged for time and materials if Maelstrom employees need to visit the company’s location, Detweiler said.
Companies looking to optimize an e-commerce site can use Tsunami with an added cost of e-commerce development.
Jim Rogan, vice president of Rogan’s Shoes Inc., a Racine-based shoe retailer, has used Tsunami for Rogan’s e-commerce site devoted to cheerleading since August. The main Rogan’s Shoes e-commerce site is currently working with Maelstrom to implement Tsunami, Rogan said.
Prior to switching to Maelstrom, Rogan had a small site that was labor-intensive to update and did not receive much traffic or attention, Rogan said.
“We wanted to improve the quality of the site, make it look nicer, easier to shop, easier to update and more easily found on the Web,” Rogan said.
Rogan implemented Tsunami after consulting with Maelstrom about Web presence, quality e-commerce sites and attracting and retaining customers. Rogan saw sales increase almost overnight. Customers were finding the site faster and buying more when they were there, Rogan said.
Tsunami enabled Rogan to add general information to his e-commerce site about the shoe fits, sizes, styles and brands, as well as news about the company and its products.
Customers of Tsunami, and those that do not have sites hosted by Maelstrom, can benefit from Maelstrom’s in-depth site traffic analysis feature for $29.95 per month. The traffic analysis service is more specific in translating data than the services only available from a site host and offers more than 40 different reports, Detweiler said.
Getting react services is another way to test a website and determine the design changes that may be needed, including page and information placement, search engine optimization, content and site design.
Maelstrom’s traffic analysis service logs traffic history, including basic traffic analysis applications, recording domains, number of visits, frequency of visitors, pages visited and time spent on each page. However, Maelstrom has taken a wider array of data to make the service more legible and valuable to a company.
When it comes to the bottom line, any Web site can be a significant investment, and when left online with little attention, a company may be losing potential clients. Investing in Web consulting, traffic analysis or Web development and design can actually help a company financially more than hurt it, Detweiler said.
“You have to know that a Web site is working,” Detweiler said. “If the site is not generating revenue, then it is only acting as a glorified Yellow Pages ad, and you need to know that.”

Elizabeth Geldermann is a reporter for Small Business Times. Send technology news to her at Elizabeth.geldermann@biztimes.com or by calling her at (414) 277-8181 ext. 121. Technology news can also be sent to: Elizabeth Geldermann, Small Business Times, 1123 N. Water St., Milwaukee, WI 53202.

Tech briefs

Verizon Wireless acquires
new territory in Eau Claire
Verizon Wireless announced a definitive agreement to pay $102.5 million to purchase 23 more spectrum licenses and other network assets from Leap Wireless International Inc., including 10 MHz of spectrum in Eau Claire. The acquisitions will give Bedminster, N.J.-based Verizon Wireless access to provide voice and data services to 8 million people in 20 markets, including parts of Wisconsin, Michigan, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and upstate New York. San Diego-based Leap also announced a new wireless customer roaming agreement with Verizon. The acquisition is expected to close near the middle of the year and is subject to regulatory approvals.

Fox Valley Technical College
lands robotics program
KUKA Robotics Corp., a global manufacturer of industrial robots, will open a KUKA College training center at the Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) in Appleton. FVTC will teach 27 different program application and maintenance classes to KUKA Robotics’ customers from across the United States. The school will utilize the supplied KUKA robots and software to teach the college’s enrolled student base in programs such as manufacturing systems, metal fabrication/welding and machine tool technician. The KUKA College program was developed for robot service technicians, programmers and administrators. A highlight of the curriculum at the college is the training program for qualification as a KUKA certified robot professional. The new KUKA training center is projected to open in August and will be located in FVTC’s new Manufacturing Technology Partnership Center, a 10,000-square-foot facility. As part of the agreement, KUKA Robotics Corp. will install about $1 million of equipment and software in existing labs and fully train FVTC faculty.

SBC-Yahoo to expand
e-mail storage capacity
SBC Communications Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. announced plans to significantly upgrade the e-mail storage capacity for SBC Yahoo! DSL and Dial subscribers, with no additional charges to customers. Beginning in early May, SBC Yahoo! customers will have 2 gigabytes (GB) of storage for each of their 10 available e-mail sub-accounts, as well as their main email account, bringing the total potential storage capacity for a family or small business to 22 gigabytes. The new e-mail storage levels are enough to hold up to 22 million pages of e-mail, more than 20,000 photos or 4,000 songs, the companies said. The increase is 20 times the e-mail storage previously offered by the service. “We know that people are using their SBC Yahoo! Mail accounts to send and store more attachments, photos and important messages than ever before,” said Andy Spillane, vice president, Yahoo! Mail.

RedPrairie adds another retail contract
RedPrairie Corp., a Waukesha-based provider of supply chain technology solutions, announced at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Distribution and Logistics Conference that Longs Drug Stores has purchased RedPrairie’s workforce performance management solution. The software helps companies better plan and schedule their workforce to efficiently meet dynamic fulfillment requirements. “After evaluating other vendors, RedPrairie is clearly the best solution for Longs Drugs,” said Mike Laddon, chief information officer of Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Longs. RedPrairie company leader John Jazwiec said, “Retailing distribution is an industry with high piece pick volume and labor intensive operations. To be able to achieve labor productivity savings of 10-30 percent is a significant achievement for the companies we serve and one that clearly impacts bottom line results.” Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Metavante gains contract extension with New York thrift
Metavante Corp., the financial technology subsidiary of Milwaukee-based Marshall & Ilsley Corp., announced that it has signed a long-term contract extension to provide services to Astoria Federal Savings, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lake Success, N.Y.-based Astoria Financial Corp. In addition, Astoria Federal renewed its contract with NYCE Corp. for data processing and electronic funds transfer marketing services. NYCE, a Metavante company, is a leading U.S. debit card payments network. “Our recent acquisitions, including NYCE Corp., position Metavante to provide a truly complete set of financial offerings to meet Astoria Federal’s future growth objectives to remain competitive in its market,” said Paul Danola, senior executive vice president of Metavante Financial Services Group.

EDS wins contract to update state’s Medicaid program
The State of Wisconsin has awarded a seven-year, $189.1 million contract to Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS) to design, develop and implement a new state-of-the-art Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS) for the state. The contract extends a 27-year relationship between EDS and the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS), the state agency responsible for providing health care to Wisconsin’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens. Last year, EDS processed more than 32 million claims worth more than $4.2 billion from more than 42,000 health care professionals in Wisconsin. “EDS was awarded the contract after a highly competitive procurement that will result in significant cost reductions and service improvements for the Wisconsin Medicaid program,” said Helene Nelson, secretary of the DHFS, which administers the state’s Medicaid programs. “EDS has been a reliable and effective business partner for the state of Wisconsin and we look forward to building upon this relationship. Wisconsin is very excited about the next generation technology EDS will deliver under the new contract.” EDS is the nation’s largest provider of Medicaid and Medicare process management services, administering more than $100 billion in benefits each year.

Fastsigns center opens
in Menomonee Falls
A new Fastsigns sign and graphics center has opened at N91 W17271 Appleton Ave., Menomonee Falls. The owner of the new business is Patrick Yates, who has a background in printing and publishing. The center provides sign and graphic solutions to area businesses and consumers. The Fastsigns franchise is based in Carrollton, Texas.

EMSystem LLC launches
new software system
EMSystem LLC, Milwaukee, released EMTrack, a fully-integrated electronic patient tracking solution for state and local emergency medical services (EMS) agencies. EMTrack provides daily patient tracking and mass casualty event support in real time communication, including patient-family reunification capability. EMTrack has a local tracking software application, a Web-based application, a mobile network and interfaces to other operational systems including computer-aided dispatch and crisis information management systems. EMTrack allows EMS officials to rapidly search for and view all information about their patients and to report capabilities for crisis management including mass casualty summaries, patient transportation summaries and hospital communication support.

April 1, 2005, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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