SME websites need to up their game, says domains boss

8 Jul 2008

Upfront costs for good web design are proving a deterrent for ordinary SMEs and as a result many business websites are little more than “picture postcards”, warned the head of the .ie Domain Registry (IEDR), David Curtin (pictured), who said this will be a campaign issue for the registry over the coming year.

“A lot of SME websites are picture postcards and don’t really offer products and services,” said Curtain today upon the publication of the IEDR’s 2007 annual report.

“We need to get them to a point where websites offer products for sale that are linked to inventories, provide support for customers and have more integrated services and content,” Curtin said, adding he believes business organisations like IBEC and ISME should be playing a role.

“What I can see is that upfront costs for attractively designed websites are a deterrent. Broadband is affordable, domain name registration is affordable and hosting is affordable. But the big cost for SMEs trying to get a good online presence is web design and integration costs.”

Curtin was speaking upon publication of the IEDR’s annual results, which revealed a turnover of €2.3m and a profit surplus of €523,709. This is the fifth consecutive annual profit recorded by the IEDR.

The IEDR reported that .ie registrations for 2007 were up 29pc and that domain prices had been reduced by 13pc.

According to Curtain, the profit surplus has enabled the registry to invest in new systems and services that will ultimately improve the Irish namespace.

“These investments will ultimately allow us to give further reductions to reseller partners. There are two things we are currently investing in which are our disaster recovery servers in Data Electronics and we are establishing a name server network in the Far East which will make access to the IEDR easier for Irish businesses and citizens in the region.”

Curtin said the IEDR has 22 name servers around the world. “It’s good practice to have good geographical coverage.”

He said the registry is also investing in international domain names. “It’s important for Russia, the Middle East and the Far East to have domain names in their own languages and its important to anticipate this need.

“It may be important to people passionate about Gaelic, for example, to be able to put fadas on vowels. We’ve cracked this in terms of meeting this need and now it’s a question of whether the market is interested.”

Curtin said the move to electronic numbering (ENUM), while live since 2007, still hasn’t achieved much traction from Irish people, but says this reflects an international trend.

“Individuals haven’t expressed much interest yet, but we are seeing this also in Germany were there are 12 million domains but only 8,000 ENUM domains.

“With convergence of telephony and the internet we believe we’ll get to a point where there will be a critical mass for ENUM and people will want to find each other by domain names. Voice over IP (VoIP) is making inroads and as VoIP grows so will ENUM,” Curtin concluded.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: Head of the .ie Domain Registry, David Curtin

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years