You can design a simple Web site in a reasonable period of time without breaking your bank. Small retailers, says Ken Robbins — specialist in search engine marketing and online retailing — can hire a company to host their Web site for as little as $10 a month.
Hosting, essentially, means holding your space on the Internet. Your host company will have the technical know-how to keep your Web site up and functioning. Once your site is designed and uploaded to the Internet, your hosting company keeps it there.
Probably the first place to start searching for a Web-hosting company is on the home page of your Internet Service Provider. Yahoo, for example, offers Web hosting, right now, for $11.95 per month plus a $25 set-up fee. Earthlink currently is offering a package that includes free set-up and a free first month of service. The best way to shop around is to go to Google, Yahoo or your favorite search engine, and type in, "Web hosting." Then, click away as you comparison shop.
Most companies that offer Web hosting also offer simple packages that enable you to design your own Web site. Netfirms is one example. "You´re going to have to invest a few hours of time," Robbins says. "It´ll probably be about the same amount of time it takes to do your taxes."
If you want to spend a little more and make your site more professional, you can hire a Web designer. Check the phone book, check online, ask friends, inquire about college kids — many of whom are quite savvy Web designers. "Any business can get a decent three-, four- or five-page Web site up, with some nice graphics, pictures of a store, pictures of inventory and some nice copy for $500 to $800," Robbins says.
"And, if it were me and I were starting a business, I would even go one level above and have a designer come in — for $2,000 to $3,000 — and put up a really nice site. That´s when you get a custom look and feel. The designer will invest the time to think about navigation of your site, things like that."
But the main thing, Robbins says, is that for less than $1,000, a retailer can get a pretty good Web site up on the Internet. "It´s online, and it establishes their presence."
It is, says the man who manages Internet marketing campaigns for clients including Home Depot and Rooms To Go, "a conspicuous omission, today, not to have a Web site if you are in business."
Next in Retail Strategies, Ken Robbins, president of Response Mine, offers tips to help you help your customers find your Web site.