Website Design and Hosting: All-In-One Solutions for Small Business
You have decided to open a virtual store on your own website, but the idea of writing codes and finding a host have so far stalled your plans. You have visions of a showroom, a shopping cart and a space for all those wonderful customer reviews but no idea of how to achieve your goal. Your website is your face to the world and its design and functionality are vital to your success.
Custom website design can cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Many people who don’t have expertise in setting up websites rely on web hosting and design packages. These relatively inexpensive products allow you to have a very presentable, simple website up and running within minutes. More complex sites will take longer, but your store can be “in business” in a day.
Designing the site with these packages can be as easy as clicking options and filling out fields on a template. With the basic packages, your options are limited to the products offered by the company’s designs and formats. There is usually a place in the template for you to upload your logo or photos, though. More expensive plans provide a manager who can guide you in building a customized site. Generally, the companies offer a list of add-ons from which you can select the features you need. These may include an site-visitor counter, an email portal, animations, shopping carts, forums and more. These sites are pretty basic, but probably adequate for a small business. You can add onto them, or buy more space to meet your site needs.
If you are building your own website and writing code, you know that designing the site is only the first half of the process. You have to find a server, or host your own site. This is another reason people turn to the all-in-one packages. The packages are inexpensive, or even free, supported by advertising placed on your site. You do have the option of telling the host what kinds of ads you will accept, however. There are several different kinds of packages. Simple ones, the kind you would choose for a family photo exchange or a personal blog, are often free, but limited. They are one to two or three pages and you have little control over the administration of the site.
A shared-hosting package usually allows you more input, but you share bandwidth and memory with everyone else on the server. Dedicated hosting gives you your own server, which makes it more dependable, but usually requires you to self-manage the site. More expensive plans offer managed plans, give you more control over the site and include support services. Packages can even give your business an automated email response with other sophisticated services. The newest type of hosting, cloud hosting, takes memory and storage up to the next level. Some packages include domain names and others require that you buy your name separately.
There are a “host” of hosts online, and the main difference is in the services they provide. Packages generally start at “free” for a bare-bones site, and run to several thousand dollars for very complex sites. Start-up virtual businesses can probably put up a very presentable and usable website for $10 to $20 a month.