|FROM THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT|
The Internet - the inter-connected networks of computers worldwide-is changing our world very fast and incredibly. The number of hosts on the Internet has shot up from some seven millions in 1995 to an unbelievable 98 millions, and as this decade is coming to a close, it is believed to have already crossed 100 million mark. All one requires is a personal computer (PC), and a telephone line which connects the computer to Internet service provider (ISP). The ISP in its turn connects you to the Internet backbone which provides the connection to the desired network. The Internet architecture is thus quite simple.
It has been reported that the radio, a marvel of communication in its own right, took 38 years for diffusion whereas the personal computer (PC) took 16 years, the television (TV) took 13 years and cable television (TV) took 10 years. The Internet, however took 5 years, and the World Wide Web (www) took just 4 years. Today as many as 170 million people are on-line establishing, most remarkably, an inter-connected global family, cutting across nations boundaries, race, and religion. The number of Internet users in India has also shot up from some 6,000 in March, 1996 to 3,00,000 in March, 1999. Delhi alone has some 50,000 Internet users, popularly called netizens.
The Internet, often also called the Net for sake of simplicity, offers a number of services including the World Wide Web. The World Wide Web, also called the Web for the short, however, has overshadowed all other services provided by the Internet with the result that it is usually treated as a synonym for the Internet. The World Wide Web offers a number of very remarkable services which are changing the way we work, communicate, entertain, and even shop for various good and services. Among the various services offered by the World Wide Web like e-mail, user groups, websites, portals, etc., the website deserves a close look.
Stated simply, a website is a site on the (World Wide) Web. To access the site, one must know its address,technically called the uniform or universal resource lacator (URL). Its typical format is http//www. xyz.abc where http indicates hyper text transfer protocol, www is the service provided on the Internet, xyz is the name of the site, and abc indicates the domain. For example, the URL of the Delhi Financial Corporation is http.//www.dfcdelhi.com. Typical domains include com (for commerce), vor (for government), org (for organisation), and ac (for academic).
Prior to its launch on the Web, the website should be designed carefully. A good website should be able to satisfy the natural curiosities of a visitor, popularly called surfer about the organisation. For example, what is the name and location of the organisation? What services are provided by it and how can one avail of them? Who are the personnel manning the organisation? What has been its physical and financial achievements in the past, say, during last three years? How does its services differ from similar other organisations? And so on.
To be attractive the Website should make liberal use of colours which should preferably be sober and not gawdy.However, the photograph and graphics should be minium because they take (relatively) a lot of time in downloading on the computer screen which is quite irritating to an impatient surfer who is used to electronic speeds. Similarly, facts and figures should be brief and to the point and information over-load should be avoided. After all, the point in launching the site is to attract the surfer in the first place and not to repel him.
To be meaningful the Website should be interactive. The Delhi Financial Corporation website for example, provides the facility of on-line registration to the visitor. Right now it is engaged in working out an appropriate mechanism to provide the facility of on-line sanction of loans. In the meantime the Uttar Pradesh Financial Corporation (UPFC), Kanpur has stolen march over other corporations by enabling a visitor to access his account on line. To protect his privacy the borrower is also provided with a password so that others cannot access his account. We can only say, well don UPFC.
A website is not one-shot affair. To be of enduring value the website should be updated periodically and regularly. Nothing upsets a surfer more than a dated information and even many well-known international organisations are guilty of this avoidable lapse. If a corporation has secured specific achievements, they should be added to the website which is an easy exercise for the web designer. For example, if a corporation has come out with its Citizen's Charter, it should be added to the website. Similarly, if a corporation has secured ISO-9002 certification, the same could be added to the website. Incidentally the website is written in a particular language called hyper text mark up language (html). The work hyper is used to indicate that it has links to other texts.
After launching the website, it is essential to monitor its use. This could be done per day, per week, or even per month by counting the number of visitors to the website, called hits. The number of hits will indicate whether the investment in launching the website is giving reasonable returns. The counter could be provided on the home page itself. Of course, this presupposes that the existence of the website has been well publicised. The World Wide Web continues to grow at an amazing speed in doubling its size every nine months. It is upto us to make the best use of this technology.