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AbstractE-commerce will become the de facto way that business is conducted, particularly so with the new generations of virtual enterprises. Our concern however, is that the thrust of present e-commerce &apos;solutions&apos; is generally misguided. Like many previous IS/IT systems they are in danger of failing to deliver expected cost-effective returns to organisations. Despite the high level of interest and excitement in e-commerce to date, organisations are getting increasingly wary of backing yet another &apos;emergent&apos; technology that promises, yet fails, to deliver competitive advantage. BIT students and industrial practitioners are well placed to exploit new, practical frameworks that can deliver this advantage. In achieving this, we believe that usability is a mission critical component in providing adaptable, exploitable (thus successful) e-commerce solutions. Put simply, a stakeholder&apos;s trust and confidence depends critically upon shared common meanings and metaphors with both their IT/IS systems and other stakeholders. Semiotics (&apos;the science of signs and shared meanings&apos;) offers a sound theoretical basis from which BIT students and practitioners can manage, design and build adaptive and commercially exploitable e-commerce solutions. Since the BIT professional interfaces between management, ethical, legal and computing cultures, they are ideally placed to offer approaches with the necessary credibility to appeal to multidisciplinary interests. Accordingly, we present and explicate the unifying Shared Meanings Design Framework (SMDF) that transcends organisational and computertechnical knowledge. We also relate SMDF to the major research programmes such as the key UK and European initiatives in e-commerce, so as to contextualise fully our own semiotic vision of e-commerce. 1.