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Irrespective of the goods you are describing and online methods of selling them, your site should contain the following information and navigation:

♦ Copyright statement

♦ Full contact details

♦ Legal statement

♦ Privacy statements

The following are also useful depending on the complexity of your site:

♦ Search facility

Home Button

Web sites take on a life of their own. What starts off as five or six pages ends up in no time being 50 or 60. It makes it so much easier for a user to navigate around the site if there is a simple Home button on every page that will transport them back to page one.

Contact Details

There seems to be a growing tendency for large Web sites to omit contact details or to make them hard to find. Full contact information is essential for some customers. A large, international charity, for instance, might wish to place an order with you but can only do so with a written purchase order. With no contact details and being unable to use credit cards, what do they do? They go elsewhere.

You should always include the following contact details:

♦ Company name, full address, and postal/zip code

♦ E-mail address (possibly a special one for your Web site so you know the inquiry origin)

♦ Phone and fax numbers (if available)

♦ Some sites include company banking details—account number and name, bank, location, and sort code to help people wiring money through

What does need consideration is whether you release telephone numbers if you don't have the staff to deal with calls. Large organizations list various contacts so that callers can work out for themselves the best person to contact.

Copyright and Legal Statements

Theoretically, anything you originate is your copyright as a right. In practice, if you forget to put the copyright symbol on your Web site, anyone can pilfer your contents with impunity. To protect the site, it is important not only to display the copyright on all pages, but also to do so correctly.

The correct format is: © Edward.S.Hasted 2002-2005.

List the copyright symbol, company/person, and years in which it was first applied. The copyright symbol can be hard to enter in some processors (try using Alt-0169). If that fails, you can use the long form with brackets: (c) Copyright E.S.Hasted 2002-5.

The easiest way of making sure the copyright statement appears on all pages is to include it as part of the common index/header or footer of the page.

Legal Statement

If you do not complete your Web site's legal page you leave yourself wide open to being sued for software being unfit, products being copied, and so on. The legal page protects you, so state the following on your Web site:

♦ Terms and conditions—The terms and conditions under which you make the information on your site available.

♦ Copyright—Restate the copyright notice.

♦ Trademarks—List all your registered and common law trademarks. Remember to include any third-party trademarks, if relevant.

♦ Use of software—Stipulate the terms and conditions attached to software and documentation that can be downloaded from the site.

♦ Use of information on the site—Again, spell out the agreement under which information from the site can be used, copied, and disseminated.

♦ Warranties and disclaimers, limitations of liabilities—Restate these as for the software.

♦ Product and service availability—Unless you are providing worldwide roll out, make it clear that just because something is announced on the site doesn't necessarily mean that it is available in every country.

♦ Submissions—Explain how you store credit card information securely, the implications of sending unsolicited ideas, and that you won't knowingly tolerate libelous, obscene, or pornographic transmissions.

♦ Linking to your Web site—Spell out your procedure and terms for people to link to your Web site.

♦ Governing law and jurisdiction state—The laws and jurisdiction under which cases shall be processed should also be asserted, as appropriate (for example, the United States District Court of North America or the English Courts).

You may need to include export control laws if any of your products fall into that category and any government/citizen's rights that need to be stated for your particular jurisdiction.

If you've never done this before it will seem like a mouthful. Luckily, you only have to do it once. My advice is look at the content of similar companies that operate in your state/country and check the points they cover. Build up your own master list of what you feel is relevant. Then pass your compilation to the company lawyer, or a friend with legal training, to make sure it's all present and correct.

For more information about this, refer back to Chapter 10.

Privacy Statements

These are becoming increasingly common. What they state is what information you store about people who use your site, what information you might store in cookies on their PCs, and what you do with such information. Issues to cover include the following:

♦ Statement of intent—Information you gather and track

♦ Information on visitors and how you use that information

♦ Customers options/opt outs

♦ Security of information

♦ Cookies—What they are, and how to find and control your cookies with your browser

♦ Web site traffic

♦ Links to partner sites

♦ Other privacy considerations

♦ Policy changes

♦ Access to your private information

♦ Contact information regarding privacy issues

Again, I recommend taking a similar approach to the Legal page. It only has to be written once. Look at other relevant sites and get a consensus of the points they address. Then add additional issues for your products and company. It makes sense for whoever is reviewing the legal content of this page to go through it at the same time they review the Legal page, as between them they need to cover all eventualities.

Terms of Use

This one is a hard call. Some sites have a separate section for this. Others call their Legal section "Terms of Use" to sound less litigious. The important thing is to make sure that terms of use are clearly spelled out wherever you place them.

Search Facilities

Search facilities are not essential. However, if your site is going to contain information about masses of products or certain third-party products that run in conjunction with your product are sited elsewhere, a search facility is essential if customers are to find and use the most suitable product.

Note |f your site is simple enough to be able to hand index, it almost certainly doesn't need indexing in the first place.

Secure Transactions

Whenever you are requesting confidential information from customers, such as credit card details, your Web pages must be secure. Many customers, very sensibly, won't provide such information unless they see their browser display the lock/key icons at the bottom of the screen to reassure them that they are on a secure page.

A security key may be already embedded in your Web site or it may have to be purchased separately. If you are using a third party to process your credit card transactions, liaise with them and ensure your transactions are secure.

This procedure may seem a little torturous the first time. It's often advisable to get a friend to help you who knows the ropes.

A secure Web page encrypts the data to and from the page to a secure server. This means the transmitted information can't be intercepted and decoded. Secure Web pages start with HTTPS:// where the S stands for Secure. Secure Web pages should be stored in a separate folder within your Web site (such as secure/orderfrom.html). Note that the www prefix has been dropped.

Search Engines

This is the big catch-22. If no one knows your site exists, how will they find it? There are billions of Web pages on the Web. How do people locate the page they want? They use a search engine. These are IT's computerized equivalent of the Yellow Pages. Eighty-five percent of all users who discover new sites do so by using search engines—they are that important.

A search engine is made up of three parts:

♦ The first automatically spiders or crawls along the Web looking for new or updated pages. It then reads each page and analyzes its content and ranks it. If there are any links on that page, it will follow them.

♦ An indexer keeps a copy of each new or modified page the spider accepts.

♦ The actual search engine software is what users use on the Web to enter and download their searches. As you may imagine, search engines are among the largest databases on the planet, as they are keeping a copy of the Web.

Just to keep you on your toes, every search engine works in a fractionally different way. Fundamentally there are two types: Search Engines and Search Directories. Engines such as Lycos do the indexing automatically with material supplied by the spiders. Directories such as Yahoo! have a team of human beings who vet the information prior to inclusion.

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