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The purpose of this assignment is to identify the impact of E-commerce on different organisations and industries. In order to do so, I have selected five different e-commerce websites from two different industries and conducted a research and analysis on various grounds. One of the industries that I have selected is the mobile phone industry and the other is the real estate industry. Both the industries have truly realise the fact that they can attract a wider segment in the market through the internet and they have done all the best they can to get the best out of it. The mobile phone companies that I have chosen are Orange, Vodafone and Three; whereas the real estate companies that I have chosen are Alex Neil and Brown & Brooke.
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Orange is one of the largest mobile network operators in the United Kingdom. The Company was founded in 1994 by Hutchison Telecom and was bought by Mannesmann AG in October 1999.They used to be a part of the FTSE 100 Index but was purchased by France Telecom, after that it has merged with T Mobile UK to form a joint venture(Orange Newsroom,n.d.). Orange is one of the leading mobile network operator and internet service provider globally. Their website that I am analysing is http://www.orange.co.uk.
Vodafone Group Plc is one of the other world’s leading mobile telecommunications company. They have a significant presence in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and the United States.. (About Vodafone, n.d.). They are also one of the leading mobile network operator and internet service provider. Their website that I am analysing is http://www.vodafone.co.uk.
Three is another leading mobile network operator and internet service provider in the UK and few other countries globally. They provide 3G technology enabled mobile phones. They have over 19 million customers registered worldwide (Who is 3 , n.d.).Their website that I am analysing is http://www.three.co.uk.
Alex Neil is an independent Estate Agent established in 1984 (Alex Neil, n.d.). They offer servies of residential and commercial sales, rentals, land acquisitions and full property management. They have offices throughout the Docklands, East and South East London.Their website is http://www.alexneil.co.uk.
Brown & Brooke
Brown and Brooke is a local independent estate agency based in Blackheath, London. They offer residential and commercial sales and lettings and full property management. Their website is http://www.brownandbrooke.co.uk.
Features of Good and Bad Website Design
The most important thing in a website is its content. But has it been accessible in a presentable manner is the question. The features of a good and bad website has been discussed below and also been related to the websites of the organisations.
1. General Design
The general design of the website catches the first impression of the surfer, so it must be very carefully designed. The basic thing is that the page must be designed to fit the standard size of the browser window that is 800 x 600 pixels (Good Design Features, n.d.). Web pages that do not fit on the standard browser window and requires to scroll sideways could a very off-putting feature to deal with for the user. A good designer creates a website in such a way that every page in the site looks similar to one another by using some patterns of the website that remains same throughout all the pages. This gives the user a sense of unique viewing experience. The elements of the website like the menu items should be aligned properly. Designs that take too much time to load is a bad feature for a website. So it is good to use the graphic elements very wisely so that it doesn’t consumes a lot of time of the user. Very slowly loading websites could result in the user to lose interest and never come back to the website again.
The general layout of the website of Orange looks plain and simple with very few multimedia and graphics unlike the websites of Vodafone and Three where flash movies have been used on the homepage. Although Vodafone and Three have made a very attractive design and layout, the website of Orange is not less effective either.
In terms of the real estate companies. Alex Neil has a very effective homepage that has the feature to search for properties right away and also highlights some hot properties on the homepage itself. It looks really useful and easy for the user to browse through. But on the other hand, the website of Brown and Brooke has used an entirely flash movie based homepage. It definitely looks attractive with the interactive menu system and the sounds but there could be a problem accessing this website through a computer or a browser which is not flash-enabled. It is definitely advisable to create a text oriented website along with such graphical medias side by side in the case of Brown and Brooke.
The background colour of the website should be wisely selected. If the colour combination of the text and the background do not match, it might be almost impossible for the user to read the text.If a picture is being used as a background it is good to avoid pictures of large size that takes too much time to load or distracting that might make the text unable to be read.The background of websites of all the organisations that I have chosen are simple white which is very good in terms of easiness to read for the user.
The font used to write the texts should be carefully chosen. Stylish and good looking fonts could be used to make the website look more flashy. But there could be a problem if it’s a rarely found found on a normal computer system, it will not show up as intended. The size of the text should be just right. If the size is too small, it might be difficult to be read, and if the size is too big it might look unattractive for the user. The colour of the font should be selected such that it can be easily read in contrast to the background colour or image.
The font size used in the Orange website seems to be a but tinier than the ones used in Vodafone and Three. This could be a problem for readers with lower eyesight. In terms of the real estate companies, Alex Neil seems to have irregular sizes of font used this makes the website look a bit untidy but the fonts used in the website of Brown and Brooke looks amazing when the property details are being shown but the search page seems to be a bit too plain for such a graphically beginning homepage.
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4. Use of Images
Images can give out a lot of information. But inappropriate use of images may have its disadvantages like longer downloading time. Using image efficiently makes the website more attractive and appealing to users to surf.
In the case of the mobile phone industries, majority of users browse the website to see and compare different mobile phones. But since they cannot physically see the phone, they have to rely on the images. So, it is advisable to provide the best picture that can present and show the physical features of the phone set in the best possible way.
Orange has really small pictures of phone sets shown on the website in comparison to Vodafone and Three. That is definitely a demerit towards Orange’s website. Three and Vodafone has shown a bigger and clearer image of the phone sets, pretty much of the same size by both of them. But, Vodafone has shown pictures of the phone in different angles, whereas Three has only shown the picture of the phone from the front. So, Vodafone has made the best use of images in their website.
In the case of real estate companies, Alex Neil has presented a big and clear pictures of the properties as a slideshow, whereas Brown and Brook has prenseted the pictures with a small thumbnail on the left hand side which on roll-over of the cursor shows a bigger and clearer picture on the centre of the page. Both of these layouts are quite attractive and efficient.
Electronic Selling Vs. Traditional Selling
This is a topic of big debate since both electronic selling and traditional selling have their pros and cons. Electronic selling gives the advantage to customers by enabling to find many alternatives to the products they are looking to buy from a click of a mouse button at home, but the drawback is that some customers do not trust the website in terms of genuineness of the product they are about to buy, relying on the description and the pictures and also on the safety of making an online transaction.
Traditional buying enables the customer to carefully examine the product they are about to buy, physically. This ensures minimising the chances of dissatisfaction on buying the product up to some extent in comparison to online buying.
In traditional buying the customers can be enticed to make a purchase by a very convincing salesperson, or the lighting and displays might make the product look more attractive. Even the music being played in the store can make the customer remain in the store for a bit longer time and might like something while looking around the store decide to buy something. The audio and visual ambience can also be created in a website by using various interactive multimedia tools, but I think that it won’t be as effective as in the traditional selling because its just virtual, not real.
In case of the mobile phone industries you get all the information of the tariffs and rates on the website, but you cannot see the phone physically. It definitely helps you find the best tariff and rate easily but you might not be satisfied with the phone. In the case of real estate companies, the website definitely helps the customers to find a potential property from the comfort of their home, but the potential property can not be the perfect property until the customer physically views the property.
Etailers’ Customer Service
The most important thing the etailers should focus on is gaining the trust of the customers. They should make the customers feel safe in making online transactions. This can be done by increasing the security features on the websites. Allowing customers to provide feedback and reviews on the products they have purchased can help new customers decide whether to buy or not. The product descriptions given on the website should be as much detailed as possible, portraying a true picture of the product. Refunds on faulty products should be made quick and easy for the customers.
Ecommerce has definitely played a vital role in the organisations. Ecommerce has made the companies exposed to a wider range of potential customers. The phone companies has made it easier for their customers to review the tariffs/rates of the mobile phone and which has simplified the process of selection while buying a phone by a great extent. This has definitely aided in making the business grow. Even in the case of the real estate companies, the websites has made customers find a home from their homes, without the need of going to the agent’s office. The companies have also gotten rid of the need to advertise on different medias, and still get the attention of even more customers.
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