Information Technology: Developing a Search Engine

Through brainstorming, we came up with numerous ideas for websites. We put them into categories of entertainment, sport, work and education. We finally decided on a school search engine website, in which we feel covers all categories.

We could argue that we are using various strategies: new product development, new market or even market penetration. The website we have decided to create could come under any of these. It could be new product development because there is not another school website at the moment so this would make it a new product and it would be in an existing market as other websites posses attributes that we hold such as Yahoo and Freeserve.

Therefore, there will be heavy competition to gain market share and win consumers. The website could also be a new market, this is when the product is in a new market but is an existing product. We are aiming at a specific segment of the market making this a new market but this makes this an old product because as I have mentioned Yahoo posses most of our attributes. It could also be argued that our outline strategy is market penetration, this is where the product is already existing and so is the market. Again this market maybe be classes as existing as Yahoo also entertain this audience and they to have some of the attributes that our website would hold such as chat feature. The website could not be diversification as we are not in a market to change from.

I have chosen this because I feel we will fulfil our sample group and increase competition in an ever-growing industry.

Task 2

I will be collecting data from our sample group (13-17 year olds) to find their likes and dislikes. I will do this by putting together a questionnaire, which consists of various questions about the consumer. This will therefore help us to find out about our customer and understand their wants and needs. This will also help us to identify the competition; from my knowledge, our main competition will be ISP’s (Internet Service Providers). These will consist of such websites as Yahoo and Freeserve.

These are both huge companies worldwide although ours is set up for a specific sample group. As mentioned in Task 1 there are arguments over which outline strategy this school search engine should be. However I feel our website fits into the new market strategy. From this decision, I have designed my questionnaire around this. I have done this by finding out about the competition. Although this maybe a new market it still holds features of old markets, and we are creating an old product.

Our sample group is group is fixed (13-17 year olds). This is a segment of the whole market, which has been segmented demographically. When conducting the questionnaire, we will be randomly asking students within our sample group. Our first questionnaire will be a closed one; this is described as quantitative research. This type of questionnaire will provide us with statistical data, which can be analysed to discover the consumer’s profile, and to find out how high the demand for the product is. Our method of research will be a stratified random sample. We could also conduct a second questionnaire using qualitative research. This type of research includes in-depth analysis into the consumer’s minds. Psychologists often do these among small groups of people; this is called group discussions or focus groups. Consumers tend to lie when they are asked set question because they base their answers on logic, but most consumers’ act on emotion (instinct) when buying a product.

Data

We found out that 78% (39 out of 50) of the people questioned do actually use the Internet. This helps us in the way that 78% of our target audience do actually have the power to view our website.

We also found out that 49% of out the 50 questioned said they use the Internet daily. This will mean that we would have to update our site on a daily basis.

From our research, we were able to find out our competition. Although the websites that were on our questionnaire are not in our market they target the whole market therefore they also occupy our market. We found out that our main competition would be from Yahoo as 54% of the people out questioned said that was the website they visited most.

We found out that 49% of the people we questioned would prefer the website to be more entertainment orientated rather than educational. Although the website will still feature educational characteristics.

I feel more extensive research could have been done to get a better understanding or our target market as a whole. We only questioned 50 people; this does not really give us an in-depth analysis into our market. We used a random sample with our sample group, maybe next time we conduct the questionnaire we can use a stratified method. I think we were in a key area when conducting the research as we conducted our research inside the school. To get a more comprehensive analysis I feel we should have asked more questions. I think for next time we can use a different method as this time we used quantitative, we could use qualitative where we can sit down with our customers and discuss what they like and do not like. Overall, I feel the response to the questionnaire was quite positive. I do not believe our consumers would lie as this website is for them.

Task 3

We found out that 40% of the UK population of net users are 13-17 year olds. Since there are about 8 million people online, 40% is roughly 3.2 million. Our target market operates a high percentage of the market.

I found out that the main reason people use the Internet is for email. This may be of a disadvantage to us, as we do not offer this service. However, the second most popular feature on the net is search engines, which we have.

Another important factor is competition that is why I tried to find out who has the

largest market share. Through extensive research, I was able to find out that Yahoo and Hotmail have the largest market share at 15% each.

What this shows us is that our main competitors are Yahoo and Hotmail because although we only target a segment of the market and they target the whole market they are still the most visited websites through the whole market. This may affect our strategy as I feel we have to customer demands, and what the customer uses the Internet most for is for email. As our outline strategy is new product development, I feel this research shows us the constraints of entering this type of market and the competition.

I checked the information for validity by not only taking the word of the paper or website, I checked their information against other websites and articles to make sure that these statistics were true. For further validity, I could have analysed a wider range of sources to gain more information for a clearer result. I found most of my research through newspaper articles and Internet websites that hold information on particular topics.

Task 4

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis tells you your internal and external strengths and weaknesses. SWOT standing for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. As for our strengths, I feel this is where we prosper. We are specialists in consumer needs, this is because our target market is 13-17 year olds and we occupy that range. Therefore, we theoretically are the customers, so we know what we want therefore we know what the customers want. We also feel that our product has a high differentiation as it is like no other. The main weakness we have is that we have no experience in building a website. We have many opportunities as there are not many competitors in our market, we are able to get grants from the school and government and we have the chance of becoming a prestigious company. We also found out that a large number of the people we questioned said they would visit the website. However with the opportunities come the threats. As our target market is only 13-17 year olds our content is limited meaning we cannot show anything that 13-17 year olds are legally allowed to view. In the whole Internet market, we have many competitors but we only operate with in a segment of the market. From our research will also found out that 90% of the people we questioned would not pay to view the website. I feel our strengths and opportunities outweigh our weaknesses and threats therefore I think the website will be a success.

PEST Analysis

There are not many political factors effecting our website, the main factor would be that of the content restriction. As there is content on the Internet that is not suitable for our target market. We would have to make sure that the content is restricted to what this age can view. The other factor of politics is that the government agreed to subsidize us in building our website. The United Kingdom’s economy is stable now. Inflation is low at the current time; therefore, people are spending less, meaning they are saving more, so they have the money to buy computers. The Internet is growing faster and faster each year, more and more users are logging onto the World Wide Web. The Internet has become as common as the television or telephone, you expect everyone to have one. We may lack some skill in the technological field as we have not produced a website before. Although saying this technology is vastly growing and as it grows, it also gets easier to use.

Effecting Strategy

The fact that we are only allowed limited content (for e.g. violence and nudity) on our website may put us at a disadvantage. As other websites may show content that we cannot, therefore they will gain the customers. However our website showing restricted content will show a sign of honesty and decency. Therefore, we will get backing from parents. Our website is also low on money and liquidity problems may arise. However, we are able to gain government subsidies as the labour party has agreed to help us in the running of our website, as this will help them gain votes. As I have mentioned we may have problems on physical side of the actual construction of the website. However, our link with the government will allow us to gain access to free computer training and if necessary, we will hire a professional in that field. Although this may cost money it will ensure we get a quality website.

The main two factors that affect our strategy would be political and technological. I feel this way because we will need government funding if our website is to work. We will also need help in the technological area as we need someone to train us or for them to build the website.

Constraints

I do not feel that there will be many constraints facing our website as it is user friendly. We will of course have to abide the law and follow such standards as the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority). They state that all adverts must be legal, decent, honest and truthful. Although it has been said that many have broken this code. However, I feel our advertisements will meet their standards. This in no way affects our strategy as this is of no constraint to us. As for stakeholders and pressure groups, I cannot see anything from them except praise. I feel the website is for the community and stakeholders will only help to improve it. For long term interests I feel that the website should fulfil the needs of the stakeholders mainly the customers. There will always be acts that have to be followed in whatever business.

The acts that mainly apply to our business (website) are trade descriptions act and monopolies and mergers act. The trade description act 1968 prohibits false or misleading descriptions of a product’s contents, effects or price. This affects packaging, advertising and promotional material. The monopolies and mergers act makes sure that there are no companies monopolising the market and that any mergers are in the customer’s interest. Once again I do not feel this have a bearing on us as we are not selling anything on our website there for it is free to view it for the time being. We do not intend to merge with another business, and if we were to it would be in the customer’s best interests.