Thanks to success in its pilot phase, Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division is ready once again to offer small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) assistance with one of their most pressing e-business challenges: the website.
With a 2013 grant from the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), Niagara College provided website solutions to several Ontario SMEs, allowing them 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 web solutions team, made up of expert faculty, researchers and students from the college’s New Media Web Design program.
And now, after that initial success, Niagara College will be able to help up to 16 more companies, with a new OCE grant worth $40,000.
“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 the 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 its website for mobile users, since a key use for the site involves people who have been in an accident and are therefore using their phones to search for Delta 1’s address.
The Niagara Falls Rowing Club needed help getting a site created: “The team at Niagara Research built us a website that has dramatically increased our exposure and provided us growth,” said Wernher Verbraeken, Niagara Falls Rowing Club. “The team was professional, creative and supportive throughout the website creation process.”
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has two key divisions within its business, providing telecommunications services, but also providing asset recovery for out-of-date electronic services. The website solution involved making sure those two key divisions were defined and the content streamed accordingly right from the company’s home page.
“Niagara Research listened to our requirements and provided us with excellent options for our website revamp ,” said Marg VanderBurgt, administrative manager at CTAR. “We found them to be professional, patient, responsive. We had a fantastic experience.”
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 and Planet 1 consulting company.
More information about the funding program, including details for potential industry partners, is available here.
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. More information on OCE is available here.
Niagara Research, the Research and Innovation Division of Niagara College, provides real-world solutions for business, industry and the community through applied research and knowledge transfer activities. Niagara Research conducts 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
Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs at campuses in Welland, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Niagara Falls; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Continuing Education courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit NiagaraCollege.ca.