Enterprises are launching “corporate portals,” gateway sites that act as an entryway to both a company’s Web presence and its intranet. In this column, Web consultant Kelly McKnight gives his opinion on a corporate portal, highlighting strengths and weaknesses that may translate to your company’s Web presence. The following index provides an objective look at the site’s features.
Kelly’s thoughts on the Gateway Web site
This is my third in a series of rating the top computer companies that are selling online. (The previous reviews were of Dell and Compaq.) Of all of them, I feel the Gateway site has the most energy.

Gateway makes it easy to buy. There is nice, friendly copy, and the graphics are clean and simple. Your choices are easy: Desktop or portable? The same helpful process of breaking down your choices carries over to the ordering cycle.

The ordering process begins by listing the choices of products from the cheapest to the most expensive. Next to each product listing is its features and price. If you want an explanation of the features, just click, and up pops the best feature and benefit section, which compares all the big three online computer sellers.

Photos with copy lines attached explain what you’re getting for your money. How easy, yet how elegant. Thank you, Gateway, for not making people like me feel stupid when trying to discover the computer that’s right for them.

Another Gateway plus: cross-merchandising. Boy, oh, boy! I can order my Microsoft and AOL along with my PC! Docking stations and carry bags are also a breeze to order. Gateway scores again.

But here’s a question: Where’s the cowhide we’ve all come to know and love? Gateway’s home in the Midwest proved a high-tech company could make it there. Being located in a cow pasture was a source of pride for those of us located in the heartland and was an integral part of the Gateway corporate story.

I guess the move out West killed the cow, and the new look will feature sea lions or something. I know one thing: I’ll miss that look. It really set Gateway apart.

The verdict
Research will tell you that between 25 to 65 percent of all online transactions fail. I bet Gateway is the exception to this. Their ordering format is really a shining example of how to do e-commerce right.

Kelly McKnight is a principal of Via Internet Studio, a consulting firm that specializes in corporate Web site design, Internet marketing, and e-commerce.

Now it’s your turn to review Gateway‘s Web site. Just click on Rate this Site! and you can help separate the good from the bad from the ugly. It only takes a minute or two to complete your rating, so don’t waste any more time—rate this site now! For Kelly’s rating, scroll below and click to page two.