After the euphoria of the dotcom days settled it became clear that most businesses could comfortably survive without a website for a while longer. Internet use in Ireland was slower to catch on than had been forecast and it is only in the last year or so that broadband penetration has reached the tipping point.
Today we have finally caught up with those forecasts! It is increasingly important for most businesses (probably still not all) to have a website – with nearly 50% of the population using the internet and research being one of their top activities. (For more information see the IIA State of the Net reports here)
For many businesses the process of getting their first website is daunting. Web developers have to charge €400 to €600 a day for their services so even an entry level site can be expensive. This leads to a part of the market considering the option of building their own site.
There are a number of tools on the market that make that possible – however there are big differences between them. One of the best ones that I have found is Sitekreator – a web based tool that is usable by entrepreneurs with no html skills or training. This is the one I use on the training programs that I run so my comments here are based on my experience with SME’s on those courses.
Although it’s interface is not always intuitive Sitekreator allows a normal computer user to build a business website in 10 to 12 hours. The $7.95 a month package that they offer includes hosting, the use of your own domain name and the ability to use funtionality from other places on the internet (such as forms, calendars etc)
Control over Look and Feel
Sitekreator is template driven and users have always found one that suits their businesses. With a couple of them you can also include your own custom header – an image that you can make up to include your logo etc. Some of the templates are basic – however they are getting better as the service develops.
While the service can be used for free it is the $7.95 a month level that is most attractive to SME’s.
Because Sitekreator allows you to include snippets of HTML within your site it is possible to build in all of the basic functionality that a small business will require. That includes calendars and forms (using the Wufoo service)
The End Result
Have a look at these – some sites built in the last couple of weeks by entrepreneurs in Kilkenny using Sitekreator. Design purists will not necessarily like them – however they do the job. And they are fully updatable and maintainable by the business concerned – one of the keys requirements for them.
The Sitekreator service can be slow at times – however it is only once been unreachable in the last couple of months. The business model is clear and the founding company is in existance for 9 years.
My next post will look at a couple of interesting alternatives to Sitekreator that take a slightly more complex approach and so open the door to more control over the look and feel of the sites that can be developed.