You will see a number of services and products on sale both on eBay and on other sites across the Internet which offer quick and ready customised web sites 'out of the box' using a variety of web site templates and pre-defined scripts to get your site operational in minutes. But what should you consider before taking the plunge and deciding whether this is something you want to invest in?
With the costs associated with web hosting and domain names dropping all the time, more and more people are turning to web based marketing to promote their business; this is especially true in the current economic climate with businesses seeking to reach out to a wider consumer base whilst also keeping control of their marketing budgets. There are now an increasing variety of products on the market for getting your web site up and running in no time, with no need to do any kind of programming or have any technical knowledge.
Before you invest any money in your first online venture, you should first ensure that your web site fits into your overall marketing and promotion strategy - a web site is not a strategy in itself and if you think that visitors will find your web site amongst the plethora of similar sites then you are wrong! Therefore, when evaluating ready made and template driven web sites you firstly need to identify just how unique you want your web site to be. If you're happy to have your web site look like tens, possibly hundreds or thousands of other web sites around the world, then by all means invest in a pre-paid and ready available template driven site. However, you may find that you need to hire the services of a developer if you need to make any significant changes to the site, so make sure that you ask for examples of where the template is currently being used and statistics on how many other sites are currently running that template.
If you are looking for a unique web presence, then again you have two options. You can still purchase a bespoke web template from the relevant vendor or Internet site, this time with a guarantee that this template will not be resold. However, such an agreement will cost anything between £1000 - £1500 and you should have a legal agreement in place to ensure that your site is unique; where you are dealing with vendors from across Europe and beyond, you may find it difficult to enforce your rights.
The only true way in which you can ensure a unique site is to develop it yourself and ensure that you own all images, fonts and copyright to the site - and watch out for deals which appear to offer you cut price graphic design services, but which tie you into a contract with the same company for web hosting. This is where they will make their money!
Don't be afraid to ask questions and don't be afraid to shop around. There isn't a one size fits all model for a web presence and if you don't mind other sites on the Internet having a similar look and feel to yours then a template is definitely the way to go. However, for those looking to stand out from the crowd, there is no alternative to a professionally developed and hosted web site.