Report finds Web skills lacking in older groups

Competent Web site construction skills are unlikely to be found in companies which are more than a year or two old, according to a new report covering the Internet market in Europe.

The report claims that the range of disciplines required to produce an effective Web site will rarely be found in established communications companies. These companies are more likely to bring in the expertise they lack on an ad hoc basis – thereby adding to the costs of setting up a site, states the report.

But according to Charles Cohen, managing director of new media at communications group Band & Brown, many established groups are setting up multimedia arms to exploit the new business generated by the Internet. Cohen has designed BT’s new magazine Web site for small businesses called Business Connections.

He says: “Some design groups and advertising agencies are trying to break into the market with expert, all-round teams.” And many of the new start-ups are “Web cowboys”, according to Cohen. “Much of the time clients will get well-designed pages, but the marketing aspect of the client’s needs will not have been understood.”

Mike Horseman, director of Horseman Cooke, which owns multimedia subsidiary Mouseworks, says that while many of the specialist new start-ups are technologically competent, they lack screen graphic design expertise. The consultancy is working on a site for accountant Moore Stephens and has brought in freelance programmers to supplement its designers.

The Building, Managing and Prospering with Commercial Web Sites report has been compiled by the Interactive Media in Retail Group, with the assistance of groups including Fitch, Apple Computer and Microsoft.

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