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The Three Principles of Image Optimization

Web Programming and Design: Images and Thumbnails

Internet Sales Pages that Convert – A Proven Formula

10 Tips for Killer Website Design

Creating Your Online News Room

My Mistakes as a Web Design Newbie

Are Inexpensive Web Site Templates Worth The Cost?
By Rick Vidallon

You Get What You Pay For
So you took the bait and signed up for your first hosting plan that includes a Web site. Your newly acquired hosting plan probably has a programmed plug-and-play template system. This system has been designed with the novice user in mind. Usually you are required to log in and begin by picking the style of Web template that suits your business. Then you enter some text in a few pages, and launch your new Web site. Now you can sit back and watch the money pour in the door. You might even try one of those services that submits your Web site to thousands of search engines for $19.95. Now the money is sure to pour in.

The Wild, Wild West
Many customer inquiries to my company concern these so-called “Web site publishing systems.” Customers usually call me after spending their hard-earned money on a Web template system that leaves them frustrated and disappointed. But I can hardly blame them; the Internet is a new frontier. Radio and television commercials are popping up left and right to hawk Web hosting companies, just like the carpet-baggers and snake-oil salesmen emerged in the proverbial Wild West. Not to say their Web template systems are a bad thing or that they don’t work. They do. But you better have an in-depth knowledge of HTML if you want to publish a Web site that is original and dynamic. Otherwise, your Web site will be lost in the clutter of the World Wide Web.

Lost in Web Clutter
If you are extremely lucky, a prospective customer might find your bargain template site on page 575 of the Google search engine. That’s not a good thing since most Web surfers won’t look past page 2 or 3 in a Web search for a product, service or information. The problem with Web templates is they are “closed systems.” Usually navigation placement is hard coded so that custom programming or effects are not allowed. On the other hand, “open systems” allow web coders to fine tune and tweak the code within your Web pages to assist you in generating a favorable position in the major search engines.

Adding Dynamics to a Static Template Page
Beyond adding moving images or animations, what if you wanted to add simple check boxes to a customer form or add a dropdown navigation that displays the location to your interior pages? Again, unless you’re handy with HTML coding, you’ll have a hard time inserting these items into your Web form -- if the flexibility of the template system allows it.

Deciding What to Do
If you are serious about launching a Web site to grow your business, you can do it without mortgaging your house. Here are some facts and figures to consider when putting together the budget for your Web site. Here are some figures I came up with while comparing Web site firm quotations across the United States.

Small business Web sites - $2800 to $3900
Small business e-commerce Web sites - $3600 to $4200

Medium business Web sites - $3800 to $5200
Medium business e-commerce Web sites - $4200 to $7200

Large business Web sites - $7200 to $10,000
Large business e-commerce Web sites - $9200 to $15,000
 

Database and Internal Web Site Costs
Some large business sites require design and implementation of an extranet or intranet for employee use and access. Depending on the backend or database needs of the client, this requires a separate bid for cost. The type of database required will also affect the overall cost, i.e., MSAccess, SQL, MySqL, Cold Fusion, Php or an Oracle database.

Choose Smartly
Before spending your hard earned money on a Web site, do your homework. Look at the live Web sites your potential Webmaster has created and take a peak at their client references.

If you don’t have the funds available for the creation of a “professional level Web site” you should at least purchase and secure your domain name. You can do this for a very modest fee. Visit networksolutions.com, register.com or godaddy.com online or call them toll-free to get started.

Stay away from pesky templates. Save those hard-earned dollars for a Web site that will actually do your business some good.

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