Web Presence

Web presence is not a new concept – it has been discussed in the scholarly literature for decades now…For example, Debaty & Caswell (2001) spoke to creating and implementing a uniform web presence architecture.  And Mohorovicic, S. (2013) spoke to implementing responsive web design.

I also reviewed two papers looking at the requirements to establish a web presence for both small and large businesses. Web presence has become a mandatory element of marketing and e-commerce, supplanting other marketing tools such as direct mail, newspaper coupons, and that very infamous and mostly historically distant character – the door to door salesman.  Unfortunately, the ubiquitous telemarketer remains, although that has become an automated function most likely relying on internet capability. 

Heinze & Hu (2006) summarized a 6-year longitudinal survey of the S&P 500 websites with the primary focus of trying to determine “what features and functions a corporate website should have in order to accomplish its intended purposes”.  They ultimately reduced their variables to three elements: 

  • Measuring website effectiveness on the basis of service, interactivity, and information
  • Impression management as evaluated by personal presentation or organization presentation
  • The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), a model developed in 1989 and extensively used to predict and explain user acceptance or rejection of computer-based technology.  which measures the perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness

Their results suggest an increased focus on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) as the web interfaces evolve and there is a greater understanding of the types of customer interfaces that are most successful.  Indeed, the whole field of user acceptance testing has evolved to fill this need.

Burgess et al (2009) developed an ebook focused on building a web presence for small businesses. As indicated by their figure at the beginning of Chapter V, they have expanded the definition of web presence to include the integration of a strategy with the governance and implementation of the web features.   Web presence will have a close interrelationship with the tools that are used to access the web.  Designs that worked for computers are not as user friendly for smartphones and tablets.  Web presences should therefore include designs that address both.  

Based on this limited literature review, I would define web presence as the ability to build a brand using the tools that are most effective for your application.  On a side note, I’m reflecting on the same vendor having different Etsy sites as a place where they can test different marketing strategies – perhaps tailoring each site towards a different market.  

When I reflect on the differences between my digital footprint and my web presence, I think of the digital footprint as being far more expansive.  My digital footprint is the data that is collected and used by others.  Web presence is how I decide to show up in the digital environment – as a blogger, as a tweeter (or microblogging), or perhaps as an author.  It is using the tools that are available to me to share my thoughts and feelings and questions with others who may or may not be in the same community.   Digital footprint could apply to those of us who are consuming information from the web, while web presence is more generative and contributory in nature. 

As I reflect on what web presence means to my post-secondary students, I think that they are more on the consumer side than on the generative side at this point in their careers.  I think of them (and me) as still learning how to engage with the various options that are available. The challenge is that we have so many tools evolving at the same time.  The web is so much like a biological organism that is evolving before our eyes.  Who knows if it might become part of us and us like them – much like J.A.R.V.I.S. in the Marvel Series.

I absolutely maintain both a private and public web presence and I feel that it’s necessary since I’m at different points of the maturity curve for different areas of my life.  The term “maturity curve” is not used as a reflection of my behavior, but, as originally developed by Carnegie Mellon in 1986,  applied to the development of my skills and capabilities.   For example, as I feel I’m very new to this field, I continue to keep a low profile.  I can see myself continuing to expand and rework my web presence as I learn more, continue to build my PLN, and have new ideas and questions to share with my various communities.  And as a Federal employee, I absolutely separate my personal web presence from my day job.  It’s important that I not give the perception that I’m spending taxpayer dollars to advance my own interests.



Burgess, S., Sellitto, C., & Karanasios, S. (2009). Effective web presence solutions for small businesses: strategies for successful implementation. Information Science Reference.  (Full text not reviewed.  Partial ebook available here)

Debaty, P., & Caswell, D. (2001). Uniform Web presence architecture for people, places, and things. IEEE Personal Communications, Personal Communications, IEEE, IEEE Pers. Commun, 8(4), 46–51. https://doi.org/10.1109/98.944003

Heinze, N., & Hu, Q. (2006). The evolution of corporate web presence: A longitudinal study of large American companies. International Journal of Information Management, 26(4), 313–325. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2006.03.008

Mohorovicic, S. (2013). Implementing responsive web design for enhanced web presence. 2013 36th International Convention on Information and Communication Technology, Electronics and Microelectronics (MIPRO), Information & Communication Technology Electronics & Microelectronics (MIPRO), 2013 36th International Convention On, 1206–1210.

4 thoughts on “Web Presence

  1. I am one who has tried to maintain a very low web presence, for several reasons.
    I have learned to see the value of it and I liked how you explained it as making it your brand. I think I am more partial to having a professional web presence than a personal one. I feel like it is no one’s business what is going on in my personal life, unless we are friends or family.

    On the flip side, I think that there is value is selling yourself as a professional online. But I will also admit that I am hesitant to engage in online discussions because I often am unsure of how it will be regarded.

  2. When I thought about the power of someone’s web presence, the word “brand” never came to mind, but it is an accurate term. It is a place that we can showcase our talents and experience to people such as future employers, almost like a business pitch.

    That is an excellent point to maintain a private social media presence. I still feel new to the world of academics and grad school, so I tend to keep a low profile when it comes to discussing topics with those types of people online. I find myself much more comfortable talking about things that I feel familiar with on the internet, so I like the way you worded that!

  3. Catherine, your jumping off point for your discussion of the topic is one I’ve never seen before. Yes, in some ways we are branding ourselves with what we create for our web presences, whether intentional or not.

    You mention that you maintain a public and private web presence. What do you define as a private web presence?

    1. Sean, my private web presence is when I’m using an email address that doesn’t readily connect with my name or location, or function. The email for this blog is connected to my UAF email address. When I had FB and IG accounts, they connected to another email that didn’t identify my name or name or location. So a very determined person or someone with access to all my google accounts could figure out the connections, but ideally, I’ve made it a little tougher overall. I consider my LinkedIn account to represent my public web presence.

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