For any business in Ontario today, having a website is a key ingredient to market one’s services. But in the competitive market of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), just having an online presence isn’t enough anymore.
Thanks to a grant from the Ontario Centres of Excellence, Niagara College’s research division, Niagara Research, was recently able to help several Ontario SMEs create website solutions to enhance the usability of this key communications vehicle.
In all, eight companies, most in the Niagara region, received a Voucher for E-Business (VEB), entitling them to five weeks’ collaboration with Niagara Research’s digital media and IT team, made up of expert faculty, researchers and students from the college’s New Media Web Design program.
“In some cases, the business needed search engine optimization, an e-commerce component, or just an update in style and content,” notes David Natalie, senior research associate, and lead on all eight projects.
“We essentially helped them learn how people use their sites, and then optimize what they offer on the website to satisfy their customers.”
For example, Niagara Research worked with Delta 1 Collision in Welland to enhance their website for mobile users, since a key use for their site involves people who have been in an accident and are therefore using their phones to search the website for Delta 1’s address.
CTAR Corp., based in southwestern Ontario, has two key divisions within its business, providing telecommunications services, but also providing asset recovery for out-of-date electronic services. Therefore, the website solution for them involved making sure those two key divisions were defined and the content streamed accordingly right from the company’s home page.
The digital media team met with the industry partners several times during the project, assessing the business’s needs, proposing solutions, and then populating the pages with the relevant content. Using WordPress themes, the team was able to deliver high quality websites in a short amount of time. The final part of each project included training on the new system, led by Niagara Research team members, so that the partner can maintain the content and system moving forward.
The industry partners for the OCE VEB through Niagara College included: CRI Fire Systems, CTAR, Delta 1 Collision, Fab-Tech Industries Inc., Foreign Affair Winery, Niagara Falls Rowing Club, Organic General Store and Planet 1 consulting company.
ABOUT OCE VEB
The Ontario Centres of Excellence’s Voucher for E-Business program engages eligible Ontario companies to partner with college faculty and students to work together on solutions for e-business challenges. Eligible Ontario companies receive a voucher, which is a credit that they can redeem for access to this expertise and resources. For more information on OCE, visit www.oce-ontario.org.
ABOUT NIAGARA RESEARCH
Niagara Research, the Research & Innovation Division of Niagara College, provides real-world solutions for business, industry and the community through applied research and knowledge transfer activities.
We conduct projects that provide innovative solutions, such as producing and testing prototypes, evaluating new technologies, and developing new or improved products or processes for small- and medium-sized businesses.
With funding support from various provincial and federal agencies, students and graduates are hired to work alongside faculty researchers to assist industry partners leap forward in the marketplace.
For more information, visit NiagaraCollege.ca/Research