The shy bunch

One of the biggest assets of the world wide web is the opportunity to interact not only with information but with other people. I’ll spare you a history lesson but the catalyst for developing the www was the wanting and needing to share information; to ask questions not only among close colleagues but with professionals and academics worldwide. This was seen as an extremely valuable asset and remains true today.

Yet you, dear reader, appear somewhat shy when it comes to answering questions on the DE site. For example, Steve Tatem is looking for a company he thinks is called Schmit & Wezel. What he’s after is a company that can supply cutting spindles on a robot arm. If you can help, reply online. If you’re still a bit shy Steve’s email address is at the bottom of his message on the Any Answers section.

Looking at the web this month, I’ve been impressed by the UK version of the Eurotherm site (find it in Drives in the Hotlinks section of DE Online). They haven’t tried to do too much with the site but what there is done well. A simple front end (homepage) tells you plenty about the company, which isn’t easy when there are five divisions in the UK alone. The product range is searchable using a simple pull down menu and navigation to other parts of the site couldn’t be simpler. It looks good and avoids the temptation to be too funky, cool or wizzy. Furthermore, it’s a solid platform from which to launch further web facilities when they feel the time is right.

RS Components has entered phase two of its outstanding web product (at www.rswww.com). Users can now check stock availability prior to purchase and an order history facility is another new feature. An autosave on the order form removes another frustrating aspect of the web. If you have to leave the site midway through an order or your connection ‘times out’ you can return to the incomplete form with minimal fuss.

RS has also researched web purchasing dynamics. It claims that an average £80 order can cost a company as much as £120 more to administer with as many as eight people involved in the process. One case study suggests that purchasing online can result in savings of over 80% in administration costs. Food for thought.

One to look for

Take a coffee break, forget about the fact that it’s chucking it down outside, and let The Lonely Planet at www.lonelyplanet.com take you to your favourite world destination.