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Technology Q &A Column - From our May 2001 Newsletter


Q: I'd like to put up a web site for my business, but it seems so difficult to know
how to do it or where to begin. What is it really going to take to get my site

A: Publishing a Web site for your business can be a relatively painless process if
you have a game plan and know the steps involved. The first thing to remember
is that it is indeed a process, rather than an event. Thinking of your project as a
process will allow you to relax, make better decisions, and create a valuable
centerpiece for your overall marketing strategy. Seeing your project as an event,
however, can lead to emotional snap decisions that must be corrected later, or
unnecessary delays while you wait for the "perfect" time to launch your site. Both
of these can be very costly in terms of lost marketing and public relations

The next choice you'll need to make is an important one: whether to go it alone
or to bring in a consultant. For most people, bringing in a professional Web
consultant will pay for itself many times over. But if you're the do-it-yourself
type, save yourself a lot of time and frustration by taking some classes in HTML,
PhotoShop, and Internet Marketing. The days of "my nephew Johnny can build me
one" are over; your Web site is your marketing centerpiece, and the competition
is increasing every day. Even if you eventually decide against actually building the
site yourself, you'll feel good about knowing what's going on and being able to do
your own updates.

If you decide to work with a consultant, look for one who will not only give you
good advice, but will also provide the technical abilities and/or resources to get
you through the process at the pace necessary to reach your goals. The
consultant or firm you're looking for is part coach, part graphic artist, and part
engineer - with a flair for marketing. Becoming a serious builder on the World
Wide Web takes financial and personal commitment; just anybody with a laptop
won't do.

The basic ingredients of the Web publishing process

Internet access - provided by an Internet Service Provider, or ISP. This is what
allows you to view Web sites on your computer. Average cost is $15-20/month.
It’s not absolutely necessary in order to have a Web site of your own, but if you
don't have it, everyone can see your site but you. Pac Bell, AOL, and NetZero are
among the largest ISPs.

Email address - 3 main types: 1) Internet Service Provider accounts, such as
"". 2) Free web-based email, such as that offered by,,, and others. 3) Host email accounts, which are a
part of your site and show your company name in the address, such as

Domain name registration - you can reserve your domain name, or site address,
for anywhere from 1 to 10 years. Expect to pay about $35/year, with discounts for
multiple years. This is first-come, first-serve basis, though; you may have to do
some hunting to find a name that's available. Your consultant can be valuable
here - just make sure the domain name is registered with you as the owner, not
with the consultant.

Design and Development - a business Web site is not an art project, unless
you're running an art gallery. Look for a designer that understands the marketing
needs of your business. You want a site that works correctly, is easy to navigate,
and sells your stuff. A pleasant viewing experience is important, but it takes a lot
more than just a pretty site to make a successful e-venture. In fact, a site that's
too fancy can even work against you by attracting more attention than your
products do. Bottom line: If people are talking about your site instead of your
products, it's time for a new design.

Hosting and Launch - putting your site on a special computer, called a hosting
server, allows other people to see it on the Web. Good deals can be had for under
$20/month these days, but don't be fooled by hosts offering you incredible
amounts of space you'll never use. For example, 2 gigabytes of server space will
hold over 80,000 pages. Anybody can offer a deal on space they know you won't
be actually using. Customer service and performance under heavy traffic load are
much more important considerations.

With the right guidance and information, bringing your business to the Internet
can be a very enjoyable experience. The most important thing is to get started

Lance T. Walker is the Executive Producer at SkyVault Web Site Services, a full
service web consulting firm based in Alameda. SkyVault provides a full range of
Internet services and can be reached at Lance is also a member of our Technology Committee.



The downturn in the high-tech economy has so overtaken our news media that a
visitor might think that all the high-tech companies in the Bay Area were folding
their tents and slinking off into the night. Indeed, who is left? The answer is:
most of us!

The East Bay, slow to blossom as a high-tech region, now has a critical mass of
technology companies that represents a highly-diversified group, both deep and
broad in its tech offerings. Once considered bedroom communities for both Silicon
Valley and San Francisco, the East Bay’s technology community has developed in
such a way that it is not feeling the pinch of the downturn as painfully as either
of those regions.

Why not? What have we done better than those two powerful centers of
technology and new business startups? It may be less planning than accident, but
happy accident, nonetheless. John Woolard, CEO of Silicon Energy, puts it
succinctly, "To start a business in the East Bay you have to have stronger
fundamentals because the venture capitalists won’t come here."

Another major reason, according to Junona Jonas, General Manager of Alameda
Power & Telecom, is that the neighborhood culture of the East Bay demands that
decisions on growth be weighed with consideration for neighborhoods as well as
businesses. She says, "Silicon Valley started as an agricultural area, and then
technology burst onto the scene. As a single industry grew fast, there was little
planning for that kind of growth. In a way, we were lucky, because we didn’t have
the pressure to grow: we were the sleepy side of the Bay."

Jonas likens the East Bay technology growth to that of the "Friends of the Forest"
model for tree planting: they don’t plant lots of a single variety of tree because it
may become susceptible to blight. "There are more varieties of businesses in the
East Bay because we weren’t focused on building a single industry here. We now
have biomedical, pharmaceutical, genetic research, software development,
internet infrastructure, networking, telecommunications and all the professional
services that support them."

Woolard says, "I’m from the East Coast, where it’s very conservative. In the
Valley they thrive on huge risks. A healthy balance is ideal. The East Bay is an
incubator for that kind of balance. We’re far enough removed from the metrics of
things like click-through and eyeballs to pay attention to fundamentals: revenue
and cash flow."

The reality of the downturn, however, is that it does have an effect. Woolard,
whose company recently cancelled its plans for an IPO, says, "This media hype is
like a disease that creeps around; the rumors affect everyone." His response to
his 195 employees? "We had an all-hands meeting in which we openly shared the
financial plan and the budget with the entire company. We’d never done anything
like that before, but now everyone understands our goals our objectives and our

Is the cancelled IPO a disaster? "Not at all. We have choices and options and no
pressure at a time when it is basically irrational to go out with an IPO. We’ll
follow our plan and grow with our revenues."

Submitted by: Meriby Sweet, CEO, Cynosure: A Business Accelerator, Inc., Chair,
Silicon Island Technology Consortium, 2425 Webb Avenue, Suite 200, Alameda,
CA 94501 510-522-5800



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