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UK web designers are increasingly required to include ecommerce functionality in the sites they build for small business clients.

According to research, published by software company Actinic, shows that etween 2003 and 2004, the percentage of sites built by web designers that included ecommerce functionality rose from 17 per cent to 23 per cent, According to research, published by software company Actinic.

In the same period, the average price charged by a web designer to build an online store for a client fell from £3825 in 2003, to £2293 in 2004.

This downward pressure on pricing may be related to a move towards in-house development on the part of medium-sized companies, with smaller businesses becoming increasingly important to web designers.

Chris Barling, Actinic's CEO, said: "The proportion of websites enabled for online selling has really shot up compared with last year. As the market both gets bigger and more competitive, it is important for designers to keep costs down and deployment speed up."

The research also shows that, overall, web designers agree that ecommerce packages allow you to develop online stores faster and easier.

Chris Lamle, of Northstar Design, said: "With the growing pressure on web designers to deliver more for less I foresee continued growth in the use of packaged solutions, in order to maximise time and cost efficiencies."

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