#PeopleStories: Making The Internet Work For You

Lee Ban Wan, an established Malaysian web entrepreneur shares with coursesmalaysia his story and business model.
Lee Ban Wan
Web Entrepreneur at E Venture Design Enterprise
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Lee, can you tell us about the clients you've worked with over the past years?

I've worked for a wide range of customers, including restaurants, property developers, gift companies, retail shops and even political organisations. My biggest client to date was Toyota; I was responsible for developing their online interactive viewer for selected models (Avanza, Camry and Hilux), which allowed the user to explore the interior and exterior of the selected vehicle from a 3D perspective, with interactive options. I was also once in charge of developing the MCA website a few years back.

How do you help your clients harness the power of the Internet for their goals?

e-commerce is currently the core aspect of web development for companies and corporations. At its most basic, e-commerce is simply a form of Internet business. However, it overcomes the boundaries of physical space - by placing a copy of your business environment on the Internet, clients can reach a much larger customer base that spans both local and international audiences.

Success on the Internet is not just about putting up your website and hoping that people visit. SEO, short for 'search engine optimisation', is probably the most important element for any website to succeed on the Internet. Basically, it's all about how well a website ranks in page results from search engines, especially Google.

SEO is all about modifying and improving your website to rank well on search engines, especially Google, in response to users typing in targeted 'keywords', which are common phrases that people use when looking for something specific. The higher you rank, the more likely that people will be aware of the website and visit it for the information they need. In this way, the website becomes popular and you can do a lot of things with the traffic, such as advertising and selling products.

SEO involves every aspect of a website, from its coding to navigation, but the most important element remains its store of relevant information. Hence, the popular saying of web developers; 'content is king'.

How do you keep a step ahead of the competition in your web development business?

Word of mouth is the foundation of my customer network. Every client that I've worked with, since the start of my company, has introduced me to the next. Through trust and good service, I haven't had the need for other methods of promoting my services.

Big names in web development rely on branding to create awareness and attract customers, but there really isn't any difference in the final work and product from a small company like mine. This is why established customers prefer to use my services. Sometimes, the big companies even subcontract their projects out to people like me rather than do it themselves.

Why is web development important for businesses?

The Internet is shaping our lives in many ways. People are turning to the Internet not just for information, but entertainment, communication and of course, commerce. Today, if someone wants to find out about certain products or services, the first thing he or she is likely to do is surf the Internet. A company without a website, at the very least, would be considered to be of low standing if nothing can be found online about them.

How do you view the IT industry in Malaysia, especially concerning Internet technology?

In my opinion, Malaysia is still in its infancy in IT. In Asia, we are behind many countries such as China, Singapore and Thailand in terms of broadband penetration, Internet speed and IT knowledge. Despite how well IT is promoted in Malaysia, our infrastructure is simply not there.

However, while it is still small, I believe IT is rapidly growing and I anticipate it will be a very important sector in future.

What's your advice for IT students to go far in this field?

Time management is very important. You can have an enjoyable life if you know how to divide your time between play and work/study. You also have to constantly follow and update yourself with the latest IT developments and trends. Interest is highly important and without it, there will be no motivation to succeed in this field.

What are your plans for the future?

My ultimate achievement in web development would be to come out with something creative that will become a fad on the Internet - something on the level of Facebook, but which hasn't been done before. I have some ideas that I'm working on now that will hopefully lead to that.