Gaining Online Advantage: Building an effective web presence in a large organisation - part 1

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 1 January 2006


The BBC, like many companies, first had a public internet presence in the mid-nineties. John Birt is not generally remembered fondly within the BBC as Director-General, however he had the foresight to think that the internet was going to be a key media communication channel and something the BBC should be involved with.

I worked at the BBC for five years, and ended up as a Senior Development Producer there in the New Media department. What I hope to do in this article is, with the benefit of that experience, to give an overview of some of the big themes that you need to think about when building a web presence for your business or organisation.

Here is what the BBC site looked like back in the mid-nineties when the BBC was first on the internet.

BBC Online homepage in the mid-nineties

It has gradually changed over the years as the web and web browsers have evolved, as web users have become more sophisticated, and as the level of bandwidth available to home and business users has increased.

As you can see, the BBC gradually got more and more content. The site only had eight links on the page in the beginning, and the most recent version of the homepage has something like 140/150 links taking users through to different parts of the website.

BBC homepage in 2005

Perhaps the most fundamental point I want to make is that in business today everybody says that their organisation must have a website. However, a lot of people never actually ask the really important question which is that whilst of course in the early 21st century you've got to have a website, why have you got to do it?

Continue to find out how to discover where to position your organisation's web presence, and how to make it a successful one.

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