In today’s business world, having a web site is mandatory. It is your virtual business card and brochure that can help attract and retain more customers. For new or small business owners the thought of investing in a web site can be a little overwhelming as there is a misconception that it will be a huge expense. Well let’s pull the curtain back on this misconception, because you can build a web site on a budget. If you’re just starting out, a simple landing page that lists your business name, services or products offered, and contact information will suffice. Adding a photos will also help brighten up your landing page and break up the text. A landing page will, at the very least, give you a web presence and when you’re ready you can expand your landing page into a full web site.
Here are some available options to get your web site built and expand your web presence:
- Do-it-yourself/Canned Web Site: There are companies that offer do-it-yourself or canned web sites that cater to new business owners or those on a budget. There are also some web hosting companies that offer web site builders that allow you to select a design and enter content. This type of web site is a quick and easy way to have a web presence, but once the business gets “off the ground” it is recommended that you upgrade and invest in a custom-designed web site that is more unique to your business.
Just as with template web sites, canned sites can be used by multiple people and your creative autonomy is limited. Review the terms and conditions in regards to the domain name and web hosting. In most cases canned web sites cannot be taken to another hosting company and if the account is deactivated, it will disappear. To ensure that you preserve your content, save it in a digital format on your computer for future use.
- Template Web Site: A template web site is a pre-designed web site where the graphics and overall layout are already in place. These templates can be purchased from various companies and some will configure the template to your specifications for a fee. Please note that these companies may offer 2 different fee structures.
- A base price which will allow you to purchase a license to use the template, but it will also be available for others to purchase. In this instance your web site may not be unique and the others who purchased the same template will have a similar web site. An experienced programmer will be able to make enough modifications to give it a more unique “look and feel”.
- A buy out price where you purchase all rights to the template and it will not be available for anyone else to buy. This is the more expensive option which can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.
In order to configure or add your own content (i.e. text, photos, graphics, forms, etc.) to a template, programming and graphics design knowledge is necessary. In some cases a web design firm will create your web site based on a template for less than the cost to create a custom-designed site. Be mindful that there are some firms that charge custom-designed prices for a template site, so always ask before entering into a contractual agreement.
- Custom-designed Web Site: Even though the word “custom-designed” is equated with the word “expensive”, it doesn’t have to be if you do the proper research. Many small to mid-size web design firms offer low-cost, starter web sites. These web sites usually include 3 to 5 standard pages (e.g. Home, About, Products, Services, Contact, etc.) in order to provide general information about your business. Some packages may even come with a free domain name (for one year or more) and low-cost web hosting. Remember to thoroughly review the contract details to ensure that you maintain ownership of your web site and/or domain name.
(Excerpt from chapter one of E-Business Success: Using Technology to Take Your Business to the Next Level)