Increase your Sales with Rich Internet Applications

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As more Internet consumers begin to use broadband connections for their personal use, the more options you have to incorporate rich Internet applications (RIA) into your website. A Rich Internet application will provide your users with a new and improved web experience that is mutually interactive, engaging and flexible. RIAs provide the instant response that is received when using desktop applications but now on the web. Examples of RIAs can be a product configurator, an Internet Bot, or an intuitive audio and video site. Now many of these use heavy amounts of bandwidth but as more people move to broadband there will be no issue in terms of page load time.

Two popular technologies that are being used to create rich Internet applications are Macromedia Flash and AJAX. Flash is a popular authoring software that was developed by Macromedia. It is used to create vector graphics-based animation programs with navigation interfaces, graphic illustrations, and simple interactivity for the Web. AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is a term describing a web development technique for creating interactive web applications using a combination of: * HTML (or XHTML) and Cascading Style Sheets for presenting information * Document Object Model and JavaScript to dynamically display and interact with the information presented * XML, XSLT and the XMLHttpRequest object to interchange and manipulate data asynchronously with a web server.

Ok, so this might sound a little confusing right now but my point is that these two technologies offer the flexibility to provide a more engaging user experience that will increase customer satisfaction and ultimately increase your sales. Many large companies, such as Reebok, Dodge, Timberland and Ikea have already developed rich Internet applications for their websites to provide a more interactive and engaging user experience. If you click on the links above, you will see an example of the various types of rich Internet applications that I'm talking about. Reebok and Timberland provide a custom product configurator that is 100% interactive and allows you to build, customize and purchase your own shoe online, Dodge provides an extreme audio and video experience that is truly engaging and visually appealing to the eye, and Ikea uses Anna, their female bot, to help answer your questions and guide you to the specific area of the site that you are looking for.

So now you're probably saying, "Ok, this is cool and all but how will this increase my sales?" In my opinion, it all comes down to proving a web experience to your users that is unlike any other site. If you provide your user with an engaging and interactive experience that is user-friendly and easy to navigate then I guarantee you will increase customer satisfaction, which will increase sales. Your users will have so much fun building your product or interacting with your bot that they will be more inclined to make a purchase from your website. And even if they do not purchase from you, they are likely to pass a link to your site to their friends and family, who may purchase from you.

It's all about the exposure. Providing an experience for your users that is unparallel to your competition will be sure to drive traffic and increase sales. So think about the future of the Internet, research the Internet "big dogs", and analyze how you can begin to incorporate rich Internet applications into your website. If you do this now, you will be way ahead of your competition.

Daryl H. Bryant is President and Chief Executive Officer of Hudson Horizons, helps his clients achieve online success through search engine marketing and customized website solutions.

 

 

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