Sandra Morris, vice president and chief information officer of Intel Corporation, gave a keynote speech at the Oracle Open World 2002 in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she put the dot-com bust into perspective by reading an interesting story.

The economy is stuck in the doldrums thanks largely to the broken promises of technology. Dazzled by seemingly limitless returns, bankers had funded hundreds of companies all going after the same dubious markets.

Heedless, individual investors clamored to get into the stock market, driving stock prices to unheard of levels. Sound familiar yet? Soon, the overheated market crashed, turning the new heroes of business into goats and scoundrels. Now disillusionment reigns and nobody knows what’s going to happen next.

The year — 1850. The technology — the steam locomotive. The country — England.

Morris goes on to say that “Those goats and scoundrels of England, right? The parallels with the Internet are very strong. Railway mania is what this period of time is called. Hundreds of companies collapsed, tens of thousands of investors lost their money. But what happened after that breakdown was phenomenal growth for the next hundred years in the railway industry in Great Britain.”

The feeding frenzy surrounding e-commerce may be new to this generation, but the same patterns of behavior occurred in the development of earlier technologies, including the steam engine, telegraphy, automobiles, airplanes, and radio. Similar to those culture-changing technologies, many lessons were learned during the e-commerce gold rush. Sure, we lost our way a bit, too many thought everything “e” was a magic bullet. But the technology that fueled that initial Internet bubble is what fuels the successful businesses of today. So, in the long term, e-commerce changed how business is conducted — and it is here to stay.

Chapter 2: Designing Your Website

A successful e-commerce business requires a well coordinated plan that takes into account, among many other elements, design competency, programming abilities (transactional and database), server configuration, public relations, and sales and marketing abilities.

However — and even I can’t quite believe I am going to say this — e-commerce is as much about selling as it is about technology. So, even though this book provides tons of advice and information on technology, just as in a brick-and-mortar store, the selling environment, i.e. your web pages, are what will make or break your e-business. You can have the best product/service in the world; but if your website doesn’t provide intuitive navigation, offer an easy-to-use process for ordering and fulfillment, and maintain high standards of quality control, you will never achieve consistent customer satisfaction. Thus, your web-based business will eventually fail.

A website is an infinite number of web pages connected by a common theme and purpose. A good design is important to provide your customers with easy access to all of your website’s pages. Careful consideration of the numerous design possibilities for your website is essential. Note, however, that while this book provides you with the tools you need to make the right decisions when it comes to designing your website for the e-commerce world, it does not provide HTML and programming tips. There are many good books and websites where you can find the various HTML and programming information you might need, utilize them, if necessary.