T-Online uses CM4all WebsiteCreator as part of its hosting package for private and business customers
T-Online, one of the biggest Internet service providers in Germany is pursuing a long-term strategy to create chargeable services in the area of hosting products. The central software in T-Online’s hosting package is “DesignAssistant”, with which T-Online website customers can design and maintain professional websites. It was developed by CM-AG as a stand-alone implementation of the website toolbox CM4all WebsiteCreator.
T-Online – one of the big players in the European internet market
T-Online International AG is one of the biggest Internet service providers in Germany and one of Europe’s leading Internet companies.
With around 2,600 employees and more than 13.3 million customers, the company is evolving from a traditional access provider into an Internet media network.
The group is represented by subsidiaries in France, Spain, Austria and Switzerland and markets a multitude of products and entertainment and information solutions.
CM4all WebsiteCreator as “DesignAssistant” for hosting customers
At the end of 2002. T-Online decided to integrate a website toolbox in its hosting product line. CM4all WebsiteCreator from Content Management AG (CM-AG) was to be made available to all T-Online hosting customers under the name “T-Online DesignAssistant“. This decision was preceded by intensive market observation and a long evaluation phase.
Extensive usability studies were carried out on the user interface design of DesignAssistant. It was intended that private customers should mainly be able to create and maintain private websites. SME customers were to be able to implement and maintain a professional, commercially targeted Internet business presence.
Customization of CM4all WebsiteCreator with clear CI guidelines
For DesignAssistant, there were very clear guidelines in relation to user guidance and integration into the system landscape. CM4all WebsiteCreator was also completely customized for the existing T-Online system environment.
In addition to the CI compliant design of the user interface, this also involved integration of the administration tools and link-up to T-Online’s bookkeeping and accounting systems.
T-Online customers can open DesignAssistant in their browser when online and with it create and maintain a professional Internet presence. Besides a large selection of design templates and a WYSIWYG editor to edit online contents, other useful extras like a flash-intro, photo album, guestbook, news ticker, forum, online survey, map and route planner are also included in the package.
The software was first introduced at CeBIT 2003, as the integral component of the newly introduced hosting products “Business Card”, “Business Homepage Basic” and “Private Homepage Plus”. Parallel to the launch, intensive work was already being done on the implementation of the long-term product strategy as a logical development for the creation of useful functions.
Continuous enhancements to secure existing and new customers
To meet the growing needs of business customers in particular, extensive E-commerce functionality was added to DesignAssistant in Fall 2003. At the end of 2003, the second launch phase for T-Online was successfully completed with the introduction of the “Business Homepage Advanced“ and “Business Homepage Professional“ products.
Since then, T-Online Business Homepage operators have been able to use DesignAssistant’s newly available shopping cart function to store whole product ranges on the server and thereby provide their customers with the option of convenient Internet shopping. CM-AG implemented a CM4all online shop for T-Online, which meets the most demanding user requirements.
Also added was a new marketing function, which allows improvements to the website to be easily communicated to a group of recipients. Since this time, there has also been enhanced publishing options for forums and guestbooks, so that website operators can check contributions before their publication.
For the hosting entry-level product “T-Online Domain Email”, also newly introduced, a business card wizard was implemented, which allows the creation of three-page web presences as Internet “business cards”. If a higher-level T-Online hosting package is purchased, these business cards can be further edited with DesignAssistant and upgraded to a multi-page presence.
“The software developed by CM-AG is very well suited to our system landscape and the entire product portfolio. The integration of the Business Homepage Advanced and Professional products created a completely new product range for first-time to professional users. Due to CM4all Technology, T-Online business customers can now be offered a professional Internet business presence for a reasonable price. In using this technology, T-Online as usual attached great importance to the highest quality, which is particularly important for business customers”.
Hans Panse, director of T-Online Business
Innovative Marketing Campaigns
To increase attention on the hosting area, T-Online used cross-media advertising.
Always at the center of many marketing campaigns to clearly and transparently illustrate the hosting products for a predominantly non-technical target group is DesignAssistant. For example, in early 2004, a virtual ATM was showcased on the web, from which interested users could “withdraw” a fixed amount to use as credit for a complete website with a hosting contract. A real depiction of the virtual ATM was shown at the CeBIT trade fair in Hannover and vouchers in the form of banknotes were distributed. Many thousands of new customers registered at this time for one of the high-level hosting packages.
Hans Panse: “DesignAssistant satisfies the needs of our customers and therefore helps us with the marketing of our high-level T-Online services. With our new hosting products and DesignAssistant, which has proved itself to be a successful tool in winning and retaining many customers, we were and are able to benefit from significant profit increases in the hosting area”.
After just one year, the number of DesignAssistant users registered by T-Online was in six figures - a figure which continually increases from month to month.